Florida GOP Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law on Monday requiring teachers in first-period classrooms in all K-12 public schools to designate a period of between one and two minutes for silence, during which students will be permitted to pray if they so choose.
DeSantis stated, “The idea that you can just push God out of every institution and be successful — I’m sorry, our Founding Fathers did not believe that.”
Speaking of H.B. 529 at a news conference Monday at the Shul of Bal Harbour in Surfside, DeSantis stated:
I want to thank the folks here today who helped with these two bills; H.B. 529, the moment of silence in public schools … a lot of schools do have it but not all of them do. But we think it’s something that’s important: to be able to provide each student the ability every day to be able to reflect and to be able to pray as they see fit. The idea that you can just push God out of every institution and be successful — I’m sorry, our Founding Fathers did not believe that. So we have an opportunity here to really protect the religious freedom of everybody who’s going to school K-12 in the state of Florida and we’re really proud of that.
The bill requires “that public school principals require certain teachers to set aside time for a moment of silence at the beginning of each school day.” It bans “teachers from making suggestions as to the nature of any reflection that a student may engage in during the moment of silence.”
The bill notes, “In today’s hectic society 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 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 bill amends a section of a Florida statute to read, “Permitting study of the Bible and religion; The district school board may install in the public schools in the district a secular program of education including, but not limited to, an objective study of the Bible and of religion.”
The bill also states: “Each first-period classroom teacher shall encourage parents or guardians to discuss the moment of silence with their children and to make suggestions as to the best use of this time.”
GOP Rep. Randy Fine, who sponsored the bill, said, “In this world of technological, media-driven, and societal turmoil, our children desperately need time for quiet reflection. Because it is in those fleeting moments that we find our higher purpose. That’s why I was so proud to sponsor HB 529, to ensure that each child gets a minute at the beginning of the school day — without a TV on or a cellphone blaring — to think about the world and their place in it. It is my hope that these small moments to become emotionally centered will have a big impact on their days — and their lives.”
The new law goes into effect on July 1.