JAMES MacPHERSON Associated Press
Gov. Doug Burgum said Monday that he will work with lawmakers on a bill next session to “ensure that the opportunity exists” for students and elected governing bodies to say the Pledge of Allegiance, if they want to.
The Republican governor’s announcement comes after the Fargo School Board last week announced plans to stop reciting the pledge because it doesn’t align with the district’s diversity code.
Under current state law, governing bodies and schools cannot be required to recite the pledge. Burgum spokesman Mike Nowatzki said the governor’s goal is to ensure those who want to can do so legally.
The governor said in a statement: “America is the land of opportunity. And students in all North Dakota public schools, 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.’
People also read…
“Our administration is creating a framework for legislation to ensure that the opportunity to recite the Pledge of Allegiance exists, 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. We are all Republicans.
Meyer said work on the legislation with the governor has not begun. But he said the pledge is “one of the strongest and most unifying statements we have as Americans. During this time of civil discourse, it’s a guiding light.”
Meyer announced last week in the wake of the Fargo School Board’s decision to push for a voucher program that would allow public money to pay for private school tuition.
Meyer said he also intends to continue working on school voucher legislation.
“These two (bills) can be mutually exclusive in my view,” he said.
The Legislature previously failed to pass similar voucher measures due to pressure from public school advocates, but Meyer said he believes the Fargo district’s decision could provide the catalyst for the move.