Burgum aims to allow pledge recitation at meetings, schools

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Gov. Doug Burgum said Monday he’ll work with legislators on a bill next session to “guarantee that the opportunity exists” for students and elected governing bodies to say the Pledge of Allegiance, if they choose.

The Republican governor’s announcement comes after the Fargo School Board last week announced plans to stop reciting the pledge on the grounds that it doesn’t align with the district’s diversity code.

Under current state law, governing bodies and schools can’t be required to recite the pledge. Burgum spokesman Mike Nowatzki said the governor’s aim is to ensure that those who wish to say it may legally do so.

“America is the land of opportunity. And students in every public school in North Dakota, along with elected governing bodies and those who attend their meetings, should have the opportunity to recite the Pledge of Allegiance and express support for the American ideals upon which our country was founded,” Burgum said in a statement.

“Our administration is creating a framework for legislation to guarantee that the opportunity exists to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, as other states have done,” the statement said.

Burgum said he is working with state Sen. Scott Meyer of Grand Forks and state Reps. Pat Heinert of Bismarck and Todd Porter of Mandan to draft the legislation.

Meyer said work on the legislation with the governor has not begun. But he said pledge is “one of the strongest and most unifying statements that we have as Americans. During this time of civil discourse, it is a guiding light.”

Meyer announced last week in the wake of the Fargo School Board decision that he would push for a voucher program that would allow public money to pay for private school tuition.

Meyer said he also intends to continue to work on the school voucher legislation.

“These two (bills) can be mutually exclusive in my opinion,” he said.

The Legislature previously failed to pass similar voucher measures due to pressure from public school advocates, but Myers said he believes the Fargo district’s decision could provide the catalyst for passage.

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