Arizona Republic
June 25, 2007

Estimated printed pages: 3 Phoenix, AZ
Author: Meghan E. Moravcik, The Arizona Republic; Reporters Anne Ryman and Georgann Yara contributed to this article.
School officials across the state are hoisting flags and tacking up copies of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights to meet requirements of a new law going into effect on Sunday.

Every public classroom in every school, from Grade 7 up to the college and university level, must display an American-made American flag along with the documents.

The law originally said that all flags must be 2 feet by 3 feet, but legislators have since adjusted the law to allow any flag that is visible, easily recognized, and not made of paper, so that schools don't yet have to replace those.

Some Valley community groups are stepping up to help districts meet the deadline.

More than 500 Peoria Unified classrooms were outfitted with flags and copies of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, thanks to a $12,000 donation from Hickman Family Farms. And the Scottsdale Area Association of Realtors donated 300 flags to the Scottsdale Unified School District.

But some districts had to shell out for the new materials. Mesa Public Schools spent about $5,300 on getting documents and flags to classrooms that did not yet have them. The Tempe Union High School District spent nearly $1,800 for 262 flags.

Parent Sharon Shindel said she thinks the new law "is going overboard."

"All students should be exposed to and learn about the flag, the Constitution, (and) the Bill of Rights as part of their studies. But just because it's hanging on the wall doesn't mean the students are really going to learn much about these subjects," said Shindel, a Phoenix resident. "I'd like to see the Legislature ensuring we have the resources and curriculum to teach these subjects."

Colleges and universities also are affected because many of their classrooms are not equipped with the flags and documents.

Arizona community colleges needed to convert 2,500 classrooms, and the three state universities were looking to convert more than 1,400 classrooms.

Community Conversation

We asked our Parent Advisory Panel members what they thought about the new
state law. Here is a sampling:

"I support having a flag in every K-12 classroom. The flag is symbolic of
the sacrifices made to preserve and strengthen freedom, democracy, our
republic, and the courage and conviction from our forefathers to break away
from an oppressive government." -- David Harbster, Chandler

"I understand the ideology that drives this type of legislation. A publicly
funded education system should acknowledge its connection to the Founding
Fathers' intentions to ensure its citizens were well-educated, thus prepared
to honor the Constitution and Bill of Rights." -- Mary Wolf-Francis, Tempe

"I think it is important to have a flag in each classroom, as well as copies
of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The very basis on which our
country was founded is in those two documents ... I think it is particularly
important now, with our country at war, for students to be reminded daily of
the sacrifices that have been made over the years to ensure our freedom." --
Andrea Baumer, Scottsdale

"Asking if flags should be in the classrooms is akin to asking if words
should be in books; without either one, the intended meaning is lost and
devoid of its representative value. There are enough veteran organizations
around the state who could easily 'adopt' a neighborhood school and assist
those with funding issues ... This should not be a funding issue, just as
air-conditioning in Arizona should not be an issue. Just do it because it's
the right thing to do." -- Paul Jungel, Phoenix

Reach the reporter at (602) 444-6943.