Chandler’s Cort—Opinion

Chandler’s Cort—Opinion—June 28th Mail Tribune - Medford Oregon

“I'm Chandler Cort of Rogue River. I am a sophomore at Rogue River High School. I have been working on an issue that has occupied the majority of my school year. My ambition has been to bring the Pledge of Allegiance back to our schools. This is my response to the guest opinion by Rep. Dave Hunt published on June 5.

I first worked to bring my school back into compliance with Oregon law. They had not recited the pledge for many years, and current Oregon law (ORS 339.875) required the kids have the opportunity weekly.

After this hard-fought victory against school officials, I became aware of a local state representative who was on a similar path. I teamed up with Rep. Sal Esquivel to help write and refine the verbiage of what became HB 3604.

HB 3604 was co-sponsored by two great, military veteran legislators, Rep. Sal Esquivel and Rep. Wally Hicks, both from Southern Oregon. HB 3604 is a just, fair and simple bill and does not create any new fee on the general population of the state of Oregon. It simply solidifies the already simple enough law, which reads, "Provide students with the opportunity to salute the United States flag at least once each week of the school year "…"

HB 3604 changed this law to read, "Provide a time at least once weekly during school hours for an employee or a student of the school to lead students in the salute of the United States flag "…" HB 3604 also allows this law to apply to state-funded charter schools, which seems fair enough.

We changed the verbiage because of an issue I had at my school. I had addressed my principal with the matter, and his first compromise was to segregate the students who wanted to recite the pledge in a teacher's classroom at one of our scheduled breaks, which were used for bathroom breaks, snacking if needed and preparing for the next class. His next compromise was to take that opportunity away from us, and tell us that our opportunity was presented to us by the school flying a flag out front.

Both of these being completely unacceptable, and fearing that this same situation has become the same for several schools in the state, we decided to solve the problem at its source. This is what drove the revisions stated above in HB 3604.

This bill adds no additional cost, fee or tax to the people of the state of Oregon. It simply mandates that the schools must lead the Pledge of Allegiance once each school week.

And even though the bill would mandate schools offer the pledge, it does not require any student to salute the flag. The Supreme Court in 1943 ruled that students could not be punished in any way, shape or form for not reciting the Pledge of Allegiance should they choose not to participate. This only reinforces the law that the schools provide an opportunity.

This bill was introduced into the Oregon House of Representatives early this session. My family and I went to Salem and I testified in front of the committee hearing the merits of the bill. And now, unfortunately, it remains there with no hope of escaping.

This was a simple bill that could have been passed through with ease, if people understood what the pledge meant. The truth of the matter is that this bill was held hostage in committee by a co-chairman of the committee. The co-chairman responsible appears to be Rep. Dave Hunt, D-Clackamas.

He claimed to have not been in favor of the bill because of the cost of the flags that would be imposed on the schools. This argument sounds very admirable at first sight, but a close inspection reveals it is completely lacking in merit. The majority of schools, at least in the southern part of the state, still have flags left over from the remarkable era of patriotism in America. Not only that, but if a school is that bad off that it cannot purchase American flags, then I'm sure a truly patriotic foundation such as the VFW or other veterans group could easily assist such a cause.

To come to a close, I just want to remind those reading this that we are still a free republic, with such glorious freedoms as press and speech, so long as we continue to stand up for them.”



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