An effort to require public-school students to engage in a moment of silence at the start of each school day is back before the state Legislature. Sen. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, refiled legislation (SB 282) on Thursday that would require principals to direct first-period teachers to set aside one to two minutes for “quiet reflection.”
The bill is filed for the 2021 legislation session, which will begin March 2. “The Legislature finds that in today’s hectic society too few persons are able to experience even a moment of quiet reflection before plunging headlong into the activities of daily life,” the bill says. “Young persons are particularly affected by the absence of an opportunity for a moment of quiet reflection. The Legislature finds that our youth, and society as a whole, would be well served if students in the public schools were afforded a moment of silence at the beginning of each school day.”
The House voted 96-20 to approve a similar proposal during the 2020 session, but the Senate did not pass the measure. During the 2020 session, Baxley said a moment of silence could help set a “different tone” for the day. Under Baxley’s proposal, first-period teachers would have to encourage parents or guardians to discuss with their children the moment of silence and how best to use the time. Teachers also would not be allowed to suggest the nature of any silent reflection that students would engage in. Rep. Carlos Smith, D-Orlando, tweeted Thursday that the bill was “dumb.”
In 1985 the U.S. Supreme Court in Wallace v. Jaffree struck down as unconstitutional a 1981 Alabama law requiring public schools to hold a period of silence “for meditation or voluntary prayer.” In his opinion for a 6-3 court, Justice John Paul Stevens quoted a 1943 precedent and the words of Justice Robert Jackson: “If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.” Stevens then added: “The State of Alabama, no less than the Congress of the United States, must respect that basic truth.”
The Supreme Court has since declined to hear a moment-of-silence case, but that may change with the court’s new make-up and a majority decidedly more friendly to displays of religion or expression in public venues or grounds.
–News Service of Florida and FlaglerLive
Dennis C Rathsam says
When I went to school, it was called praying.
I agree Dennis. They take religion out of the schools but want to impose a “moment of silence” instead? Let’s get back to the basics of what our founding father’s envisioned for our country. “Political Correctness” is destroying our country.