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Oklahoma State Senate
Communications Division
State Capitol
Oklahoma City, OK 73105

For Immediate Release: February 14, 2007

Senator Don Barrington
Senator Don Barrington

"Celebrate Freedom Week" Legislation Clears Committee

Sen. Don Barrington wants Oklahoma's students to better appreciate the sacrifices made by our nation's military men and women for freedom. For this reason, he and Rep. Ann Coody, R-Lawton, have authored Senate Bill 17, which would create "Celebrate Freedom Week." The observance, which would take place during the week of Veteran's Day, would help better educate students about the sacrifices made for freedom and the values on which the United States was founded. The measure was approved by the Senate Committee on Veterans and Military Affairs Wednesday.

"I'm very pleased that it passed because I think it says a lot about our nation in that we have a lot of history - rich history with our veterans and how this nation was founded," said Barrington, R-Lawton.

The two legislators originally introduced the bill during the 2006 session as House Bill 2774. It passed unanimously in the House, but never received a committee hearing in the Senate because of time restraints.
The legislation would require the State Board of Education to adopt rules by December 31, 2007 requiring all public school districts to include appropriate instruction concerning the intent, meaning and importance of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, including the Bill of Rights, in their historical contexts. This would be as a part of a social studies class and would take place during "Celebrate Freedom Week" or another full school week determined by the Board.

"I think it's important that the religious references in the writings of our founding fathers not be censored, so I put a section in specifically stating that," said Barrington. "We've entered a time where when it seems people get offended at every turn. But our country was built on these beliefs. You don't have to agree with them, but you should know them. It’s history."

Barrington noted that students need to be able to understand the relationship of the ideas expressed in the Declaration of Independence to later American history. Therefore, he said students should be taught the relationship of the Declaration's ideas to the rich diversity of our people as a nation of immigrants, the American Revolution, the creation of the U.S. Constitution, and the abolitionist movement, which led to the Emancipation Proclamation and the women's suffrage movement.

SB 17 would also require that all students grade 3-12 recite the portion of the preamble of the Declaration outlining our fore fathers views on the innate freedoms of men and women. Exemption from the recitation would be possible for those kids whose parents submit a written request that their child be excused from participating, for those students who have conscientious objections to it, or for children of representatives of foreign governments to whom the U.S. government extends diplomatic immunity.

The measure now goes before the Senate for consideration.

For more information contact:
Senator Barrington's Office - (405) 521-5563

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