Moment of Forced Silence Implemented in Illinois

The Chicago Tribune ran an article today about the now-mandatory moment of silence in public schools across the state.

“I think it’s ridiculous,” said Mark Merklin, a sophomore at South Elgin High. “What’s the punishment if you talk all through the moment of silence? Is there a fine or what?”

Neil Codell, superintendent of Niles Township High School District 219, said in a prepared statement that legislators “have moved to new heights of buffoonery and uselessness” by not tackling what he considered to be more important issues.

“If I’ve drawn ire here it’s because we are really fed up with their antics which is to avoid dealing with central, pertinent issues that all schools need to deal with which is school funding reform,” Codell said. “No wonder we’re down at the bottom of all the states in school funding because this is what they spend their time on.”

Thankfully, Illinois’ resident atheist activist Rob Sherman is on the case:

Atheist and activist Rob Sherman said once the law is implemented at Buffalo Grove High School where his 14-year-old daughter Dawn is a freshman, he’ll sue Township High School District 214 and immediately seek an injunction.

The law calls for the moment of silence “at the opening of each school day” which in his daughter’s case means biology class.

“They’ll be damaging my daughter in that this process stops the public school teacher from teaching during instructional time paid for by the taxpayers,” Sherman said. “This is the General Assembly’s more-religion-less-science plan for my daughter’s biology class.”

Sherman noted that even a minute a day could take away up to three hours of instructional time during a 181-day school year.

I don’t know how strong his case would be, but in theory, I’m on his side.

This is an idiotic move on the state legislators’ part.

At my school, most students have a free period where they can clear their mind, talk to their friends, see their counselors, get some homework done, get tutored, go to the library, etc. If that doesn’t help them relax, I doubt that a few seconds of silence will do it any more.

I enjoyed this response from one commenter:

I used the moment of silence to sneak a text message in while the teacher wasn’t looking.

You can see the list of who voted for this bill (nullifying the governor’s veto) here (PDF).


[tags]atheist, atheism[/tags]

  • Mriana

    Sherman noted that even a minute a day could take away up to three hours of instructional time during a 181-day school year.

    I said something similar in the other thread about this, only I didn’t do the math, but I figured about a 1/2 day of school would need to be made up for all of this foolishness. I do hope Missouri doesn’t try to pull this crap. :(

  • stogoe

    Are these nuts so insecure about their imaginary god that they have to force everyone else around them to bow in silent deference?

    Sadly, yes.

  • Vincent

    I just don’t get this, because the moment of silence back when I was in high school didn’t count against class time.
    In essence, 1st period was 5 minutes longer than the others because the 1st 5 minutes were taken up with the Pledge, the moment of silence and announcements.

  • Sarah

    Your quite lucky your school took into accout the fact that announcements take up class time. I remember a few of my teachers tought though the announcements in order to fit everything in. It was rather distracting.

  • Polly

    Sleight of hand legislation, misdirection, smoke and mirrors. What they’re basically saying is:
    “Hey, look everyone, forget about all our mismanagement, we’re passing MORAL legislation because we’re MORAL people. Don’t forget that the next time you’re in a voting booth.”

    Balanced budgets? funding education?

    “I, congressperson, believe all our problems can be solved if we turn to our ‘values’ and FOCUS ON THE FAMILY, and curb in-de-cen-cy. Turn back to our founding fathers’ principles and make this a Christian NATION. UNDER. GOD. ONCE AGAIN!”

    -Cue patriotic music.

  • http://groundedinreality.blogspot.com Bruce

    OK, although i think the “moment of silence” is a bunch of garbage, we’ve got to lose the argument that it eats up school time. Setting aside one minute a day is not going to keep any kid from learning to read. Making this argument makes us sound like we are blowing it out of proportion.

    The real issue here is not about time but rather about intent. We all know that the “moment of silence” is merely the fundies way of trying to keep their religious foot in the secular door and back door prayer into schools.

  • Paul Snyder

    I think a few well-placed fart noises would provide daily entertainment for some high school kids.

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  • http://paxnortona.notfrisco2.com Joel Sax

    Hm. Could we have it instead of the Pledge of Allegiance?

  • Kevin

    I think the moment of silence is an amazing idea. I’m in school right now and the time that moment took was like 10 seconds. So don’t cry about less time for school because I mean if your athiest what time do you have after you die.

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  • kathy

    I don’t believe in god. I do believe there is more to life than what we have here and now but it is not wrapped up in biblical stories of heaven etc. I do however work as a counselor in a continuation school and devote a lot of time to my daughters high school involving myself in a lot of projects. I am not so closed minded though as to think taking a couple of minutes a day to reflect on perhaps some text that reaffirms self worth, or the value of responding to anger and violence by walking away or just refusing to play the game, or how to find help for leaving gangs or getting off drugs, or to praise a positive achievement of fellow students especially with a population that rarely hears it at home or to thank a group of students that picked up some stray garbage at lunch without prompting might do more good to build up the self esteem of kids or get them thinking of another way of reacting to the dark side of this world than sitting and waiting on a teacher to set out his materials and post assignments on the board before starting class. The first period in school no matter where that school is has usually 5 extra minutes built in to allow for announcements and school business so the idea of losing 3 hours is lame. Perhaps five few minutes at lunch to do this would be a solution if you are so worried. Anyway you can bring something positive into a childs day anymore or get him thinking that the wrong way is not always the only way or just getting him to think period and stretch his brain through a couple of minutes of maybe spontaneous discussion with his peers might be a really good thing. I do not believe the word prayer was used by the legislature but if a couple of kids chose to do it silently I have no problem with it, I’m sure it happens around us all the time, we make time for muslims to do their prayer rituals at school because that is PC why not give everyone the freedom to find a better path either through their religion or through just doing and thinking the right thing. The Golden Rule can’t hurt anyone and it doesn’t come with missionaries trying to convert you. As I said I am not a believer but I don’t mind others believing and when they come to my door I have no problem smiling and saying no thanks. Rudeness begets rudeness and don’t we have enough of that in the world today? I just happened on this site and nothing particular brought me here but I have to say I have never found atheists to be a particularly friendly bunch. They are so filled with rage they lash out and make it bad for everyone. If I can say no politely and not be rude can’t you? Why take pride in gutting legislation that could possibly bring some good into the lives of others? Not all children are as lucky as your daughter to have an involved parent and eventually your daughter is going to leave your nest and will be thrown to the zealots so she needs to learn how to get along and handle them and not do it in a way to bring anger and stress and a heart attack by 50 into her life. Perhaps Dad your concern is that she will find her own way askew from your beliefs. Are you so controlling that you demand that she see the world and everything your own way? My daughter registered Democrat with me being a life long intensely involved in my local chapter Republican. Did I scream and yell and tell her to change it? Nah. A sweet smile and a week sobbing in bed with a pack of oreos and milk can make even a Democrat look OK. :) Chill out…there is enough hatred in the world by religious evangelicals, fanatical terrorist zealots, cranky atheists who can see only one path in a world full of interstates and highways and byways. Don’t narrow your daughters world, let her see all of it and come to terms with it her own way. Chances are it will be close to your way but if it isn’t and she likes limberger while you like fontina arent you still going to love her and isn’t she going to still love you?

    kathy

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