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Florida Senate Weighs 'Moments Of Silence' In Public Schools

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Every morning, public school students stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. New legislation would also require them to participate in a moment of silence at the beginning of each school day. The House version is backed by Representative Kimberly Daniels (D-Jacksonville) and the Senate plan is sponsored by Senator Dennis Baxley (R-Ocala). Both proposals call for one to two minutes for students to reflect. They can use the time for mediation, prayer, or self-reflection. 

"Too much is going on now with young children and we muist give the opoortunity for school, for the learning environment, to teach about care and self-reflection," Daniels said, advocating for her bill.

The measure sparked debate in its last reading in the House, especially from Representative Spencer Roach (R-Fort Myers), who happened to be the only Republican opposing the bill.

“I oppose the bill because I believe that the most precious commodity, the most precious resource that our educators is time. When you look at 2 minutes a day, which equates to 40 minutes per month, which is equivalent to six hours per calendar school year, that’s almost the equivalent of one full school day," Roach said. "So, what we are really doing here is creating a new school holiday of one day to allow our student to engage in six hours of self-reflection. I do not think that this is time well-spent.”

Roach’s assertions were challenged by Representative Al Jacquet (D-Palm Beach), who says the proposal isn’t about prayer, but a time for students to “calibrate.”

“Our students are busy. They wake up straight to Facebook, straight to the television, straight to the radio stations, and they don’t have time to just slow down," Jacquet said. "So I disagree, respectfully, that this is literally them doing nothing. This is exponential gains: that 2 minutes.”

The bill states that teachers are not to instruct students on how they should be spending their reflection time, but rather have their parents encourage their kids at home to participate.