April 22, 2024

Letter to the Editor: A singing mandate

House Study Bill 587 has been introduced in the Iowa legislature mandating singing the national anthem in school. I look on this with particular horror, in that long ago, as I reached adulthood, I vowed I would never do two things ever again. I have kept that vow. The two things are going on rides, such as Adventureland or the state fair, and singing. I don’t sing and the idea of being required to sing everyday before class gives me the chills.

But I am willing to look at this proposal rationally. The idea, apparently, is to increase patriotism in our children. All good and well, but it would seem to me that what we first need to do is to quantify the amount of patriotism in our student body as it currently exists. I don’t think it fair that an assumption be made that our students lack patriotism or that they should be required to have more patriotism than they already have. Before we jump the gun and mandate more patriotism I believe we should quantify the amount of existing patriotism and once this is accomplished to set an amount of patriotism needed to fulfill the requirements set out by the legislature.

The question is how to measure the quantity and quality of patriotism currently existing in our student bodies. And do we assume that the quantity or quality of patriotism currently existing is the same for every community. I would think not. For instance, if the level of patriotism at a particular school is very high, they may not need be made to sing the national anthem every day, but maybe every other day or once a week.

It’s an issue of measurement. How do we measure the level of patriotism existing in a given environment? We could measure degrees of patriotism; or maybe the percentages of patriotism.

Or, we could determine levels of patriotism or the categories of patriotism. There seems to be various ways that patriotism could be measured and analyzed. Maybe an algorithm could be developed for purposes of measurement.

Of course, any measurement would necessarily entail some sort of questionnaire to be distributed to the student body for purposes of obtaining the data necessary for measurement and then for remedial efforts. Actually, it all seems pretty complicated. Maybe we should give this idea some thought before rushing to pass legislation requiring a whole lot of singing. I certainly don’t want to force singing on anyone who doesn’t like to sing — patriotic or not. I for one would not be inclined to acquire more patriotism if I had to sing for it.

Richard E. H. Phelps II