Legislating Silence

By Elizabeth Rich — October 16, 2007 1 min read
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Last week Illinois became the 12th state to mandate a moment of silence for public school students at the start of their day. Chicago school teacher and self-described secularist Will Okun guest blogs his reaction for the New York Times in Disguised Silence. He can’t understand why the teachers and staff at his school support a bill that even the governor vetoed.

They argue religion in the school will improve behavior and increase academic performance, while I do not understand why people feel the tyrannous need to force their particular religion on the public sector.

When it comes to explaining a tragedy at his school—where they occur in “disproportionate numbers”— the students echo the visiting grief counselors: “In His infinite wisdom, everything happens for a reason.”

There is virtually no discussion or acknowledgement of the social conditions or individual decisions that led to [a student's] premature and inexplicable death.

Finally, Okun asks why legislators are promoting “disguised prayer” instead of addressing “the tragic state of education in America’s low-income communities.”

A version of this news article first appeared in the Blogboard blog.