Nebraska’s Americanism Laws

Aug 20, 2015 by

Schoolroom-Saluting-American-Flag

“Nebraska’s Americanism Laws”

By Patrick J. McPherson, Member of Nebraska State Board of Education

8.19.15

 

The recent Omaha World-Herald article (Aug. 15) brings to light several issues regarding schools following laws.   Nebraska law requires that all educators sign the ‘pledge’ although it appears that only a very few of its school districts are requiring it.  Whether the law is enforceable or legal, it is the law until it is revised or successfully challenged in the courts.

 

The pledge (law) says:

 

“I, ………., do believe in the United States of America as a government of the people, by the people, for the people; whose just powers are derived from the consent of the governed; a democracy in a republic; an indissoluble nation of many sovereign states; a perfect union, one and inseparable; established upon those principles of freedom, equality, justice and humanity for which American patriots sacrificed their lives and fortunes.

 

I acknowledge it to be my duty to inculcate in the hearts and minds of all pupils in my care, so far as it is in my power to do, (1) an understanding of the United States Constitution and of the Constitution of Nebraska, (2) a knowledge of the history of the nation and of the sacrifices that have been made in order that it might achieve its present greatness, (3) a love and devotion to the policies and institutions that have made America the finest country in the world in which to live, and (4) opposition to all organizations and activities that would destroy our present form of government.”

 

On December 7, 2012 the Nebraska State Board of Education approved standards that support this as well.   The introduction to its revised Social Studies standards for all Nebraska schools states:

 

“The purpose of the Nebraska Social Studies Standards is to teach our children to become young patriots who have an intellectual understanding of the genius of our country’s founding principles and who feel an emotional connection to our nation.   Achieving this purpose requires teaching Nebraska students to become responsible citizens who are prepared to preserve, protect and defend freedom and democracy in our nation and in the world.”

 

Based on the above, parents should ask how their schools expect to teach the state’s social studies standards if teachers, principals, superintendents and school districts won’t sign or enforce such a pledge or don’t share those beliefs.

 

Yet another State Statute, 79-724, on American citizenship, reinforces the need for school districts and schools to follow a related law, one that compliments the discussion above but unfortunately appears to be followed selectively also. 

 

Two requirements of school districts are:

 

1)    “….Since youth is the time most susceptible to the acceptance of principles and doctrines that will influence men and women throughout their lives, it is one of the first duties of our educational system to conducts its activities, choose its textbooks, and arrange its curriculum in such a way that the love of liberty, justice, democracy and America will be instilled in the hearts and minds of the youth of the state.”

2)   

2)      “Assure themselves as to the character of all teachers employed and their knowledge and acceptance of the American form of government.”

 

Other requirements for school districts include devoting time to the recitation “of stories having to do with American history or the deeds and exploits of American heroes”, the singing of patriotic songs and memorizing the Star-Spangled Banner and America; the development of reverence for the flag; the benefits of our form of government and the dangers and fallacies of Nazism, Communism and similar ideologies, and; the appropriate patriotic exercises to recognize Lincoln’s birthday, Washington’s birthday, Flag Day, Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

 

Another important requirement states that, “Every school board, the State Board of Education and the superintendent of each school district in the state shall be held directly responsible in the order named for carrying out this section, and neglect thereof by any employee or appointed official shall be considered a dereliction of duty and cause for dismissal. 

 

Parents and concerned citizens should read this law in its entirety and ask whether their schools are following it.   

 

Until these statutes are changed by the legislature or their legality successfully challenged, the pledge requirement and citizenship statutes are the law.   To not require educators to sign the pledge or school districts to follow the statues tells our parents and children that our teachers, principals, superintendents and school boards don’t believe in enforcing the law.   Somehow that seems to send a very wrong and incongruous message to children when it comes to enforcing laws.

 

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Fox News clip on Nebraska school’s use of Americanism statute:

 

http://video.foxnews.com/v/4433293434001/grapevine-everything-old-is-new-again-in-nebraska/?playlist_id=930909819001#sp=show-clips

 

 

 

Donna Garner

Wgarner1@hot.rr.com

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