Old Glory and a copy of the Constitution could be displayed in public school classrooms if a measure passes that is aimed at making sure students have a proper understanding of American history and government.

SB190 requires public school classrooms in grades 4 through 12 to display the U.S. flag and a copy of the U.S. Constitution .

"Our sons and daughters and their children and grandchildren have to know about the flag," said Sen. Allen Christensen, R-North Ogden. "It's an important thing — at first I thought it was trivial but the more I get into it the more I see how important it is."

Initially the bill, which passed out of the Senate Education Committee Thursday, was written to require a copy of the Declaration of Independence but that has since changed.

Currently state law requires elementary students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance daily, although parents can excuse children from the exercise. Secondary schools are encouraged to do so weekly. State law also requires schools to post the national motto, "In God We Trust." Several school districts received donations to buy framed depictions of the phrase and Christensen hopes communities will get involved in providing flags for classrooms that don't have them as well. They run about $17 each, according to Christensen.

However, he said copies of the Constitution would be donated by a Layton supplier.

The measure would also require State Board of Education and local school boards to periodically conduct reviews to ensure effective instruction in American history and government is taking place.

Posting patriotic displays in school classrooms was not the only civic measure tackled on Capitol Hill Thursday. The House approved HJR3, which reaffirms the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, with only five Democratic representatives voting against it.

Sponsor Rep. Kerry Gibson, R-Ogden, said that his bill comes "from the strong desire to keep the reference of the deity" in the pledge.

"This is in keeping with the beliefs of our Founding Fathers," he added. He said the words "under God" have been under attack, both in legislative bodies and in the courts.

Utahns and Americans must understand that their unalienable rights come not from the state — for surely they will lose those rights if they believe so — but from God. And as such, states can't take those rights away.

"That is the very foundation of our (federal) Constitution," said Gibson, a dairy farmer. "We understand this basic truth" — that Americans get their freedoms from God, not in spite of him, he said.


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