The state of Arkansas recently passed a law stating that, if given the funds, all public schools must display the U.S. national motto “In God We Trust” above the American flag.
Act 911 was sponsored by Rep. Jim Dotson during the 2017 Arkansas legislative session. The legislation received support from the Republican Party. The new law states that all public elementary and secondary schools must display the nation’s motto above the American flag when provided with funds from a privately-owned organization or other voluntary contributions.
The proposal was offered amidst national debate surrounding the seperation of church and state.
“This is a good example of the 10th Amendment in action. When it comes to the separation of church and state,” senior Nathan Wagner, a political science and history major said. “I believe that this does not violate that. The state is not establishing a church nor endorsing any church.”
This new policy raised questions about what is going to happen in public school classrooms, as well as how the students and teachers feel about this new law.
“If the district should receive a donation meeting the criteria as outlined in the act,” Diane Barrett, superintendent of Searcy Public School District said. “Then the district will certainly carry out its duty as set forth under law.”
Many still speculate and have conflicting opinions about the law passing. April Butler, a Searcy High School English teacher, said she is fine with public schools displaying the national motto.
“Our national motto and flag are intended to promote pride in our country, patriotism and to make us all realize no matter how different we may be as individuals we are all a part of something bigger that represents the best in all of us,” Butler said.
Act 911 is circulating the state as schools in Benton, Arkansas become the first to display the country’s motto with funds from a local church.