Like a prayer? Legislature to mull school ‘moments of silence’ again in 2021
The attempt by state Sen. Dennis Baxley to change requirements for the Bright Futures program elicted harsh reactions from parents and students. --COLIN HACKLEY PHOTO

A bill that neared the finish line in the 2020 Legislative Session is back again.

A bill that neared the finish line in the 2020 Legislative Session is back again for 2021.

Sen. Dennis Baxley filed SB 382 Thursday, a measure that would require moments of silence for students in public schools.

The language and the concept is substantially the same as when he filed the bill last year.

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 each first-period classroom teacher “shall encourage parents or guardians to discuss the moment of silence with their children and make suggestions as to the best use of this time.” The language does not contemplate the specific way a teacher “shall encourage” that discussion.

The bill holds that “students may not interfere with other students’ participation. A teacher may not make suggestions as to the nature of any reflection that a student may engage in during the moment of silence.”

The bill did everything but become law at the end of the 2020 Session.

The House version, sponsored by former Rep. Kim Daniels, was on the Senate calendar.

But with the House and Senate struggling to work out the final touches on the budget as Session wrapped, the bill was “temporarily postponed.”

A.G. Gancarski

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


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