Moment of silence legislation clears final House committee

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The legislation appears to have enough support to clear the House floor.

Legislation mandating moments of silence for public school students (HB 737) before starting their day passed the House Education Committee Tuesday.

This is the bill’s final stop before reaching the House floor. It’s sponsored by Jacksonville Democratic Rep. Kim Daniels. The bill advanced out of the committee without opposition. 

The legislation would require public school principals to compel teachers to offer time for silent reflection at the beginning of the school day. It would replace the current statute, which calls for a “brief meditation period.”

Silence would be mandatory for at least one minute but no more than two minutes. Daniels noted the silence would be just after the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of the school day. 

The bill prohibits a teacher from making suggestions about the nature of a student’s reflection during the moment of silence. Under the measure, the teachers are directed to encourage parents to discuss the moment of silence with their children and to make suggestions to them about how they should use that time. 

Daniels points out students could use the quiet time to make a “mental or emotional transition from a hectic situation.”

“Thirteen other states have legislated this law, and they are experiencing positive results,” she said. 

The Senate version (SB 946) has one committee stop left in Rules. Sen. Dennis Baxley is sponsoring the Senate companion.

This bill deals with what we all deal with,” Baxley said during the first Senate committee hearing last month. “The tyranny of the urgent.”

“We live frantic lives … I see it in my own grandchildren,” he added, without elaborating on what that looks like.

“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 American Atheists opposed the bill.

A.G. Gancarski contributed to this report.

Sarah Mueller

Sarah Mueller has extensive experience covering public policy. She earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2010. She began her career covering local government in Texas, Georgia and Colorado. She returned to school in 2016 to earn a master’s degree in Public Affairs Reporting. Since then, she’s worked in public radio covering state politics in Illinois, Florida and Delaware. If you'd like to contact her, send an email to [email protected]


One comment

  • Cogent Observer

    February 18, 2020 at 7:48 pm

    The children can say a prayer before they leave for school. Or, they can remove their earbuds, turn off their phones while waiting for the bus, and reflect upon the day to come.

    Truly, Ms. Daniels, this is a moronic idea. And you are paid with tax dollars to advance it? It would be far better if you’d engage in productive work.

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