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  1. #1
    Senior Member xanadu's Avatar
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    Apr 2006

    Arizona porposed bill - fly the flag in all classrooms

    Bill proposes flag fly in all classrooms
    Colleges would be included

    Carrie Watters
    The Arizona Republic
    Jun. 5, 2006 12:00 AM

    Second-grade students stand before the American flag with small right hands over their hearts and sing the Star-Spangled Banner before moving, 22 voices strong, into the Pledge of Allegiance.

    This is a daily routine.

    Still, Glendale American School may not be American enough. Their flag would be too small if a bill moving through the state Legislature were to become law.

    House Bill 2583 would require that every public kindergarten through college classroom in Arizona display an American flag that is at least 2 feet by 3 feet and made in the United States.

    Senate debate on the bill is scheduled for today. House members already gave their nod to the proposal, which remains among the final bills lawmakers are expected to act on this session.

    Rep. Russell Pearce, who introduced the measure, said he intends to get an amendment to exempt existing flags, such as the one at Glendale American School.

    After all, the measure isn't wholly aimed at elementary and high schools, where school officials report flags in nearly every classroom.

    The bill would have the biggest effect on college classrooms, which are a vast and untapped landscape for flag displays.

    Student behind the bill
    A former college student at the University of Arizona sparked the proposed law.

    Tyler Mott, now 28 and an aspiring law student, rallied unsuccessfully in 2004 to get flags in every classroom on campus. His plan called for businesses to donate the flags. He even got a small cache of donations to get started.

    Peter Likins, UA president, called Mott's plan "nobly motivated" but turned it down. He feared that maintaining America's most prized symbol would be too arduous on decentralized campuses where professors move around, rather than taking ownership of a single classroom.

    "There is a protocol that must be followed respectfully when you fly an American flag. You can't just stick it up there and forget about it. We have fewer people maintaining our facilities than we had before the budget cuts, and we don't want the responsibility of maintaining flags in every classroom," Likins wrote in a 2004 e-mail to Mott.

    An enthusiastic Mott persisted, reading about similar resistance in a Florida college, which led Florida in 2004 to adopt a law requiring flags in classrooms.

    "The flag represents everything that is good about America and anything that is not so good can be changed because of what the flag represents," Mott said. He sees that as especially important in classrooms where students debate opposing ideas without fear of repercussion.

    The UA graduate found a friend in Pearce, R-Mesa, an outspoken immigration reformist who said an American flag should be in every classroom that receives state funding, especially at a time of immigration marches where foreign flags are waved.

    "This is America. If they don't like it, they can leave," said the plainspoken Pearce.

    He went on to recall the veterans in this nation's history who sacrificed to keep the tattered flag waving during the American Revolution or to raise it on Iwo Jima. "When do we stand up and recognize this?" Pearce asked.

    Pearce took up Mott's cause with the bill that has backing from the American Legion and the Arizona Family Rights Advocacy Institute.

    "It's important that not only U.S. citizens but public-funded institutions recognize, display and appreciate the American flag. It's symbolic of our country's freedom," said Robin Scoins, with the institute.

    Difficult to criticize

    For university officials, the patriotic fervor is difficult to condemn. None filed formal opposition.

    "It comes across as a lack of patriotism on our part and I regret that very much," Likins said.

    He said patriotism is alive and well at the UA, which flies a large American flag and honors the USS Arizona, lost at Pearl Harbor, at its student center. The flag at the center of campus goes to half-staff when appropriate, and that and other flag formalities is what Likins said university officials could not ensure in the university's more than 250 classrooms.

    "People write bills because they sound like a really good idea, but they don't think through the implications of actually carrying out the bill," Likins said.

    Officials at Maricopa County Community College and Arizona State University questioned whether funding would accompany the proposed mandate.

    The law would require 2,533 flags for the state's community college classrooms alone, according to Nicole Greason, a spokesperson for the Maricopa County Community College District. That equates to about $21,530, based on an estimate for flag and mounting brackets from Hook's Flag Shop in Glendale.

    Requiring donations
    The bill is known as the Arizona's Flags for Freedom Program. It would require public schools to seek donations for one year. After that, the Legislature would consider funding flags in any flagless classrooms.

    Some ASU students say they would rather see state lawmakers address critical funding for higher education. The undergraduate student government passed a resolution opposing the bill, calling for legislation that would improve education. "Our state and country will be able to achieve the most if we are the best educated nation in the world, not if we see our flag more than any other nation in the world," said Ross Meyer, a senior economics major and president of student government.

    Matt Trujillo, 19, a sophomore psychology major at ASU, said he has never noticed the lack of flags in college classrooms and he's not entirely sure they belong there. "I can see it in elementary and middle school, but college is really kind of where we are all adults now," he said.

    Rep. David Bradley, D-Tucson, who voted against the measure, said that children should learn the values the flag represents, but that a law that would require a fairly large flag in every public college classroom is "ludicrous."

    Pearce and 34 other House members cast their vote behind the idea of the former student from Tucson. "The flag being there teaches children to respect our country and our freedoms and our way of life," Mott said.
    "Liberty CANNOT be preserved without general knowledge among people" John Adams (August 1765)

  2. #2
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    Mar 2006
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