Bill calls for patriotic exercises in Iowa schools on 10 holidays

DES MOINES — A bill under consideration in the Iowa House would require schools to teach students the meaning of ten national holidays. Constitution Day in September, Columbus Day in October and Veterans Day in November are on the list, along with Bill of Rights Day in December and Martin Luther King, Junior’s Birthday in January.

Republican Representative Brooke Boden of Indianola says it’s important to make celebrations of these holidays consistent from one school to another. “I think that we need to make sure that we are teaching our children to respect America and that they should know what each one of these holidays mean,” Boden says. “It’s not just something that’s written on the calendar. It’s not just something that’s taken lightly.”

The bill calls for social studies teachers in public schools to lead appropriate patriotic exercises to commemorate each of the holidays on the list, but the bill does not describe what those exercises should be.

Representative Art Staed, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids, says it’s worth teaching the meaning of these holidays, but the legislature does not need to pass the bill.  “This is just a superficial thing,” Staed says. “I don’t know who it pleases, but it’s a problematic thing for our schools and curriculum.”

The bill has cleared a House subcommittee and is eligible for a vote in the House Education Committee, along with another bill that would require students to stand and sing the National Anthem each school day.