CENTER FOR EDUCATION IN LAW AND DEMOCRACY
The Pledge of Allegiance: A Teachable Moment
Lesson Ideas
Using Cartoons to Teach about the Pledge Law

Colorado Law requiring daily recitation of the Pledge passed in May 2003. However, following a temporary Federal Court injunction, this law will be re-considered by legislators during the 2004 legislative session.

Humor can be an effective way to engage students with a controversial issue such as the Colorado Pledge law. Rocky Mountain News cartoonist Ed Stein has addressed the Pledge issue recently in his comic strip, "Denver Square." Mr. Stein has been the editorial cartoonist for the Rocky Mountain News since 1978 and has granted CELD permission to reprint several of his Denver Square Cartoons for this webpage.

Lesson Ideas

1. Have students work in pairs or triads to analyze the cartoons, focusing particularly on the perspectives of the four family members depicted in the cartoons: What are the perspectives of the grandfather, mother, father, and son? Ask students to summarize each person’s view on the issue in a phrase or sentence. Discuss with students how a daily comic strips whose characters’ attitudes and views are well-known to its readers provides the artist with an opportunity to convey ideas on both sides of an issue with relatively few words.

2. Next, ask students to select one of the cartoons and create a fifth frame, in which a new character enters the picture. The frames students create should represent the perspective of the new character (and inject new humor, if possible). Characters who might enter the frame could include:

• The governor
• A school superintendent
• A social studies teacher
• A state legislator who sponsored the bill
• A state legislator who voted against the bill
• The students themselves

3. Post each cartoon in a location around the room and have students display their frames with the appropriate cartoon. Allow time for students to examine each others’ work. Which do students think do an especially good job of conveying the new character’s perspective? Which are the funniest?

Denver Square Cartoons by Ed Stein. Used with permission.

1. August 27, 2003

2. August 26, 2003

3. August 23, 2003

4. August 21, 2003