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Bush: No Penalties for Teachers Who Decline To Repeat Pledge

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A campaign official for Vice President George Bush said last week that the Republican Presidential nominee opposes legal sanctions against teachers who disobey laws ordering them to lead students in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

The question was asked by Education Week as the Vice President continued last week to say in stump speeches that "the teachers should lead the children in the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America."

The Republican platform also promises to "protect the Pledge of Allegiance in all schools." But the Bush campaign had not previously spelled out whether the candidate would favor enforcement of a legal requirement involving teachers.

According to a spokesman for Deborah Steelman, a domestic-policy adviser to Mr. Bush, the Vice President would not support laws that punished teachers for refusing to say the patriotic oath. The spokesman said Ms. Steelman would not elaborate on Mr. Bush's position on the matter.

Throughout the campaign, Mr. Bush has criticized his Democratic rival, Gov. Michael S. Dukakis of Massachusetts, for vetoing legislation in 1977 requiring teachers to lead students in the pledge daily.

Mr. Dukakis has said that he based his veto decision on an advisory opinion by the Massachusetts Supreme Court, which held that a teacher's decision to disobey the requirement "may threaten the continuance or advancement of [his] career."

The state high court based its decision primarily on the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in 1943 that students cannot be punished for refusing to say the pledge.

Legal experts disagree over whether the U.S. Supreme Court ruling protects teachers as well as students.--rrw

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