Editorial: Go beyond the pledge


While we’ll agree with state Rep. Sal Esquivel, R-Medford, that it would be nice if all Oregon school children recited the Pledge of Allegiance daily, surely there’s a better way to instill a sense of what the pledge is really about than to make daily recitation a legal requirement.

Esquivel’s House Bill 3014 would do just that for all public and public charter schools in the state that meet in public buildings.

The issue isn’t new for Esquivel, who introduced similar legislation in 2011. Under his proposal, school districts would be required to outfit every classroom with American flags and set aside time daily for recitation of the pledge. Currently, they must offer time for the pledge only once a week.

If it sounds as if Esquivel has a particularly angry bee in his bonnet, he may well have. He’s irked at the Madrone Trail Public Charter School in Medford. The Waldorf-based school not only does not fly an American flag, according to The Oregonian, it asked its school board for permission to fly a “world flag,” whatever that is. The board rejected that idea.

Still, we’d be happier if Esquivel had turned his personal ire at a particular school into something more constructive.

The American flag, after all, is only a symbol, powerful as it might be. Students would be better served by studying the U.S. Constitution that stands behind that symbol.

Oregon law does actually require students in this state to study the constitution as part of American history, and so they do. The problem is, unfortunately, the constitution is a small fraction of courses that aim to get students from the era of the Pilgrims to the present. It’s a span of nearly 400 years, and taking an in-depth look at any part of it is nearly impossible.

The constitution deserves more than that. The bill of rights alone deserves more than that. Yet, as nearly as we can tell, in Central Oregon only Sisters High School offers a social studies class specifically devoted to the U.S. Constitution. The Sisters class is roughly 12 weeks long and is required for students hoping to take Advanced Placement U.S. History.

That makes sense to us. Teaching kids what stands behind the flag they’re pledging is a whole lot more valuable in the long run than recitation of the pledge itself.