A meme circulared in June 2021 advised viewers that the governor of Iowa had signed a bill requiring the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in that state’s schools:
It was true that on May 20, 2021, Gov. Kim Reynolds of Iowa signed into law legislative bill House File 847 (HF 847) just after the Iowa Legislature passed it on the last day of the 2021 session. The bill was characterized in news reports as prohibiting “school districts, cities, and counties from implementing mask mandates” in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
HF 847 contained other provisions, however, including one related to public schools and the Pledge of Allegiance. The bill required public and non-public schools to display the U.S. and Iowa state flags on flagstaff, and it required public schools to “administer the pledge of allegiance in grades one through twelve each school day” and to “display the United States flag during the recitation.”
The text of the bill allowed that a “student shall not be compelled against the student’s objections or those of the student’s parent or guardian to recite the pledge”:
1. The board of directors of each public school district and the authorities in charge of each nonpublic school shall provide and maintain a suitable flagstaff on each school site under its control, and the United States flag and the Iowa state flag shall be raised on all school days when weather conditions are suitable.
2. The board of directors of each public school district shall administer the pledge of allegiance in grades one through twelve each school day. Each classroom in which the pledge of allegiance is recited pursuant to this subsection shall display the United States flag during the recitation. A student shall not be compelled against the student’s objections or those of the student’s parent or guardian to recite the pledge.
The Pledge of Allegiance provisions had been part of a standalone bill proposed by State Rep. Carter Nordman, which the Iowa House had passed in February 2021, but the bill was not taken up by the Iowa Senate until its provisions were added to HF 847:
“I am extremely proud that HF 847, which included my Pledge of Allegiance language, was signed by Governor Reynolds,” Nordman, a freshman legislator, said. “By being just one of a few states who did not have Pledge of Allegiance language in our code, we were doing a disservice to our students.”
Nordman hopes this new law will serve as an opportunity for teachers to discuss with students the true meaning of the pledge of allegiance.
“We don’t pledge our allegiance to a government or a leader. We pledge our loyalty to an idea – the American idea. We pledge our loyalty to the greatest social experiment to ever happen on this planet. This is why I believe the Pledge of Allegiance is so important,” he said.
“When writing the original bill, I wanted to ensure student’s First Amendment rights would not be infringed upon. That is why there is specific language included to protect the First Amendment rights of all students,” Nordman added.
“During a time of such political divide in our nation, I believe the pledge is something that can bring all Americans together, regardless of political affiliation,” Nordman stated.