Back in March, the Illinois Senate approved a bill mandating a moment of silence in the state’s public schools.
In August, Governor Rod Blagojevich vetoed the bill:
“The law in Illinois today already allows teachers and students the opportunity to take a moment for silent thought or prayer, if they chose to,” Blagojevich wrote. “I believe this is the right balance between the principles echoed in our constitution, and our deeply held desire to practice our faith. As a parent, I am working with my wife to raise our children to respect prayer and to pray because they want to pray—not because they are required to.”
And today, the Illinois House voted to override the veto.
That means public schools in the state will be forced to have a moment of silence. There’s no definition of what a “moment” is, so schools can take some liberties with that, I suppose…
As Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn writes:
Some schools, some classrooms and some students may benefit from the calming effects of a moment of silent thought-gathering as the school day begins. Sure. But others may not need it. They might benefit more from a moment of science, to paraphrase a bumper sticker I saw recently, or from singing a song, or from doing 100 jumping jacks or issuing a group primal scream as the tardy bell rings.
I trust the teachers and the parents and the administrators at each school to make such a decision without any arm-twisting from Springfield.
How else can the state’s General Assembly “help” Illinois schools? Zorn suggests these ideas (and many others):
The Alphabetical-Line Ban — In order to prevent discrimination against those with last names beginning with letters toward the end of the alphabet, teachers may no longer ask students to line up in alphabetical order.
The Tardy Bill — A teacher may not count as tardy any student who has at least one foot inside the classroom door by the end of the ringing of the bell.
I’d like to know how a moment of forced silence helps anyone. It’s not illegal; it’s just not useful. Hell, I’d much rather listen to my iPod if I want to relax than be silent.
What sort of lesson does that teach, anyway? Maybe if people weren’t so silent, we wouldn’t have idiotic laws like this one.
If you’re interested, here’s the history of the piece of legislation.
(via The Doubtful Daughter)
[tags]atheist, atheism, moment of silence[/tags]