Public schools and universities would have little more than a year to buy and fly an American flag in every classroom throughout the state if some Republican lawmakers get their way.
On Tuesday, the GOP-controlled House Committee on Universities, Community Colleges and Technology approved a bill requiring schools to hang Old Glory in every classroom by July 1, 2007.
The bill would also mandate that all public and charter schools as well as community colleges and universities buy American-made flags that are at least 2
by 3 feet.
The sponsor of the bill, Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, said this was being done in an effort to raise the level of patriotism that has been steadily declining over the years.
“We live in a time when we need to recognize our heritage,” he said Tuesday during the committee hearing.
Pearce has earned a reputation as a strong opponent of illegal immigration.
And this year alone he has introduced nearly a dozen immigration bills, ranging from sanctions against business owners who knowingly hire illegal immigrants to building a wall along the border with Mexico.
“The flag is a symbol of freedom, and we need to protect that,” he said. During the meeting, he said there are some schools throughout the state that do not have a flag in each classroom.
Rep. David Bradley, D-Tucson, said he supports patriotism, but questioned whether it needed to be legislated at the state Capitol.
“It has to come from inside their hearts and minds,’’ he said at the meeting.
“For us to say ‘You will do this’ has the stench of another era.’’
He later said he was thinking of Nazi Germany in the 1930s and what he called that country’s “programmed loyalty” policies.
Likewise, Rep. Ted Downing, D-Tucson, was concerned the bill was not the best way to convey a sense on civic pride to the public.
“This is not the proper way to bestow patriotism,” he said. “If we want we should spend more on teaching American history.”
The bill now goes to the House Appropriations committee — which Pearce leads — for approval before moving to the House floor for a vote.