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Rep. Kim Daniels, a Jacksonville Democrat

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Kim Daniels seeks ‘moment of silence’ in public schools

Daniels’ bill already has a Senate companion.

A Senate bill that would ensure public school students are afforded moments of silence now has a House companion.

Rep. Kim Daniels, a Jacksonville Democrat, filed HB 737 Friday. The Daniels bill is identical to SB 946, filed last week by Ocala Republican Sen. Dennis Baxley.

The bipartisan, bicameral duo has collaborated before on legislation that appeals to Christian conservatives.

The bills would require public school principals to compel teachers to offer time for silent reflection at the beginning of the school day.

This proposal would replace the current statute, which calls for a “brief meditation period.”

Silence would be compulsory for at least one minute, but no more than two minutes.

“The Legislature finds that in the hectic society of today, too few persons are able to experience even a moment of quiet reflection before plunging headlong into the activities of daily life. Young persons are particularly affected by the absence of an opportunity for a moment of quiet reflection,” the bill contends.

“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 language adds.

As well, the bill contemplates says that each teacher “shall encourage parents to discuss the moment of silence with their children and make suggestions as to the best use of this time.”

The bill makes no provision for nonparental guardians. Nor does the language contemplate the specific way a teacher “shall encourage” that discussion.

Baxley and Dennis have been a formidable team when it comes to getting religious legislation through the process.

In 2017, the pair teamed up on the “Florida Student and School Personnel Religious Liberties Act,” which bans school districts “from discriminating against students, parents, & school personnel on basis of religious viewpoints or expression,” and requires a school district “to adopt limited public forum policy & deliver a disclaimer at school events.”

They are both pushing another bill this year with religious ramifications for the classroom. That bill would mandate public high schools offer elective courses in Bible study. This would include studies of the Old and New Testaments, as well as Hebrew Scripture.

Baxley is carrying another bill, also with a Jacksonville House sponsor for the companion, that seeks to promote social uplift via a state sanctioned “Guide to a Healthy Marriage.”

The bill, a Baxley perennial, has a number of components.

If ratified, it would create a “Marriage Education Committee.” This committee would include six “marriage and family advocates.”

These worthies would help formulate this guide.

The guide will be paid for with private funds and having access to it would be a prerequisite for a marriage license.

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a working journalist for over two decades. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at a.g.gancarski@gmail.com.

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