Old Glory's getting some fresh attention as local school boards toe the line on Nebraska's new Pledge of Allegiance rule.
The rule doesn't take effect until next fall, but boards are already taking steps to bring their schools into compliance.
All of the state's public schools must make time for a daily voluntary pledge in the presence of the American flag, under the rule adopted by the Nebraska Board of Education and signed by Gov. Dave Heineman.
The Omaha Public Schools, the state's largest district, is already in compliance in all grades, said Matt Ray, interim executive director of student and community services.
On Monday, Ray presented to a board committee a proposed district pledge policy that would make the change official.
The policy closely mirrors the language in the state rule, he said.
Ray said it appears that the district has enough flags for classrooms. Critics raised that concern when state officials were debating the new rule. The district should be able to comply with only “minimal” cost and without using substitute images of the flag on paper or electronic form, an idea floated in some districts, he said.
In some OPS schools, teachers lead the pledge, and in others, students are prompted by intercom, he said.
Warren Taylor, who worked as a principal at OPS's Lothrup and Kellom Elementary Schools in the 1960s, spoke in favor of the pledge. He told board members the pledge used to be a normal part of the school day, and there was no discussion about whether staff members would do it.
“You just did it,” he said.
Board member Mary Ellen Drickey said, “It's so important to have respect for our flag, and it has to start from the kindergarten on up.”
The Elkhorn school board on Monday moved toward adding a provision to its policies reflecting the new rule.
Superintendent Steve Baker said the district's elementary schools long have done a daily pledge. Middle schools said the pledge once a week.
Knowing the law change was coming, the district added the daily pledge at the middle and high school level at the start of the school year. Typically, a student leads the building-wide pledge over the intercom system.
The Millard school board adopted a new pledge policy last week reflecting the state requirement.
District spokeswoman Rebecca Kleeman said Millard students are already reciting the pledge daily. The high schools recite in the morning: Millard North during daily announcements, Millard South at first bell and Millard West at the beginning of advisement, she said.
Students in the Bellevue Public Schools say the pledge daily, but district officials are looking at adopting a policy to reflect the rule, said spokeswoman Amanda Anderson.
World-Herald staff writer Julie Anderson contributed to this report.
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