A State Could Require Schools to Play the National Anthem Weekly

School boards would be tasked with choosing a rendition of the anthem. Acceptable versions include those on file with the Library of Congress.

School boards would be tasked with choosing a rendition of the anthem. Acceptable versions include those on file with the Library of Congress. Shutterstock

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

An Alabama lawmaker said he decided to sponsor a bill after noticing that schools did not play the anthem at all sporting events.

Schools would be required to play the national anthem at least once per week under legislation proposed in the Alabama State Senate.

The bill, approved last week by the Senate Committee on Education Policy, would require that every public K-12 school in the state play the Star-Spangled Banner at the beginning of every school-sanctioned athletic event, and “during school hours, at least once per week.”

Schools with two or more sporting events in one day “may choose to broadcast ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ at only one of the events.” Each district’s school board would be in charge of selecting a specific rendition of the anthem for schools to use. Suitable choices include “any of the 13 recordings...archived within the Library of Congress,” or a performance “from original sheet music” by a “school-sanctioned band program” or “a school-sanctioned chorale program, vocal group, or vocalist.”

There are no sanctions for noncompliance.

Sen. Gerald Allen, a Republican from Tuscaloosa, told the education committee that he was motivated to introduce the legislation after attending several sporting events in his district and noticing that the anthem was only played at some of them.

"I did hear the national anthem at one volleyball game this year,” he said. “And I attended several of those."

It’s unclear if other states have laws that require schools to play the national anthem, although a Florida statute does give district school boards the authority to require “programs of a patriotic nature to encourage greater respect for the government of the United States and its national anthem and flag.” That law also requires that “students and all civilians” stand at attention when the anthem is played. A school district in Oklahoma passed a similar policy in 2017.

The committee gave Allen’s bill a favorable review on Thursday. It heads next to the full Senate. If signed into law, the policy would take effect on the first day of the third month following passage.

Kate Elizabeth Queram is a Staff Correspondent for Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.

NEXT STORY: State Legislation to End Hair Discrimination Gets a Mention at the Oscars