Public school ‘moment of silence’ proposal clears House, Senate committee stops

Is this too close to school prayer?

Legislation that would require schools to offer non-denominational “moments of silence” advanced in House and Senate committees on Tuesday.

The House legislation (HB 737) sponsored by Rep. Kim Daniels, a Jacksonville Democrat, cleared the PreK-12 Innovation Subcommittee Tuesday morning unanimously 17-0.

The Senate version passed its first committee stop last week, and its successful encore was Tuesday in Judiciary, where the measure was approved 4-2 over Democratic objections.

Ocala Republican Sen. Dennis Baxley framed his bill (SB 946as a simple measure to make a moment of silence a “part of the school day.”

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 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.”

When asked about this by Senate Minority Leader Audrey Gibson, Baxley said this was part of “routine parent/teacher communication.”

The room was jammed with people from all over the state who supported the concept.

Baxley and Daniels collaborated before on legislation that appeals to Christian conservatives.

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

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski



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