Is FL right to require ‘moment of silence’ for K-12 public schools?
- On Tuesday, June 15, 2021, Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill to require public schools in Florida to have a moment of silence at the start of each day. The bill specifies the “moment of silence” as silent prayer or meditation.
- Before signing the bill, DeSantis stated, “The idea that you can just push God out of every institution and be successful - I’m sorry but our founding fathers did not believe that… so we have an opportunity to protect the religious freedom of everybody going to school, K-12, in the state of Florida.”
- On May 9, 2014, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts ruled that the Pledge of Allegiance does not discriminate against atheists, saying that the words 'under God' represent a patriotic, not a religious, exercise.
- In all, 32 states have laws or guidelines that specifically say students can opt-out of the pledge on their own.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis' decision to require public schools K-12 to demonstrate a 1-2 minute moment of silence at the beginning of every school day will prove beneficial. The law shows respect to people of all religions and cultures that simply need a couple of minutes to themselves.
Although there is no specific religion in this country, 'religious people' make up over 70% of the country's population. While that percentage reflects a great portion of the population, just over half of those people say they actively attend a church. When people are straying away from physically practicing their religion, a moment of silence in school gives a student time to possibly pray or reflect on their beliefs.
A moment of silence can be used to meditate and calm anxiety, in which over a quarter of teens regularly suffer. Studies have shown while looking at significant sample sizes, patients who suffer from anxiety feel relief from meditation at the same rate that those who take antidepressants do. A 1-2 minute period of absolute silence for 13 consecutive years may lead to a child developing a beneficial meditation routine. Going into school with a clear mind may lead to better behavior from students.
Governor Desantis indicated that the moment of silence isn't necessarily for religious purposes. Students can use this time to plan their day or maybe honor those that assist them. A moment of silence does not unnecessarily inflict religion on anybody, nor does it harm anybody in any way.
Prayer shouldn't be given a time in school: Gov. DeSantis said the moment of silence would be an opportunity for students to 'pray and reflect as they see fit.' This seems like a sneaky way of allowing churches to enter public schools. While Florida schools allowed an optional period of 'silent prayer and meditation' before this bill, DeSantis' new bill will now require schools to hold this period of time during each school day for students. DeSantis himself hinted at the fact that this bill is meant to push schools towards incorporating church and God when he said, 'The idea that you can just push God out of every institution and be successful, I'm sorry our founding fathers did not believe that.' This bill seems like a direct violation of the concept of the separation of church and state.
In addition to the religious agenda this bill pushes, it will waste valuable school time. Students already arrive exceptionally early for public school, and this mandatory moment of silence will take away time that should be used for learning. This could even result in forcing students to endure longer school days.
There are better ways DeSantis could be spending his time to help schools. The average public school teacher annual salary in Florida is about $56,289, but the national average for the 2019-2020 school year was $63,645. Florida should be focusing on appropriately compensating and improving the lives of the teachers who mold young minds, such as getting more funding to provide supplies and increasing teachers' salaries, making schools safer, and improving curriculum. These should be the top priority- not creating a mandatory moment of silence.