Which puts me in an somewhat-awkward position as a high school teacher in Illinois who prefers using class time to teach my students.
First, a quick recap of the story:
The Silent Reflection and Student Prayer Act was approved by Illinois lawmakers in 2007. But a U.S. District judge overturned the law in 2009 after an outspoken atheist and his daughter from Chicago challenged it.
A federal appeals court has ruled the law is constitutional because it doesn’t specify prayer.
Illinois education officials on Friday alerted schools that the federal injunction banning a mandatory moment of silence had been lifted, opening the door for schoolchildren to again begin the class day with a period of silent prayer or reflection.
“This action means the (Silent Reflection and Student Prayer) Act is now in effect,” read part of a message that the Illinois State Board of Education sent to school principals and district superintendents.
Rob Sherman is the Chicago atheist who filed the initial lawsuit and he says he’s trying to appeal the judge’s ruling.
In the meantime, beginning Tuesday when school is back in session, I may have to lead my class in a moment of silence. (Because what our education system needs more than anything is a new way to waste kids’ time.)
This law is pointless. It’s a not-even-thinly veiled attempt to push prayer in the classroom.
There’s no definition for how long a “moment” is.
There’s no penalty if you break this law.
There’s no one checking in to see that it’s being upheld.
There’s nothing a student can do in the 15-second silent period that they can’t do right before class or before they leave the house.
So, kids, if your teachers know what’s best for you, they’ll encourage you to do whatever the hell you want during the “moment.”
Cause a ruckus.
Sing in unison.
Tell them a joke.
Better yet, use the time to ask your teacher a question about last night’s homework. What are they going to do? Stop you from learning?
There’s a Civics lesson for the kids: The Illinois state government apparently has nothing better to do with their time than force kids to shut up for a few seconds.