Why just one moment of silence?
The election results of November 8th, announced a new day for America. Pundits predicted major policy changes for defense, economy, rules of government, gun control, abortion rights, immigration regulations, and even changes in the Constitution of the United States.
Unbelievable as it may seem, the 36% of the eligible voters who went to the poles demanded a fundamental change in the constitutional prohibition against prayers in the public schools. Did I say prayer? Well I meant to say, a moment of silence, not prayer. Immediately, various lobbying groups voiced their opposition to just a ‘moment of silence’ in the old school house. The most vigorous groups protesting the ‘moment’ were the American Federation of Teachers, the Association of Public School Administrators and the National Education Association. The following is an office memo secreted out of the headquarters of the AFT. It is addressed to the President of the United States, with copies to Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh.
Dear Mr. President,
We take this opportunity to offer our total support for the notion of a moment of silence amendment, but we must humbly protest the restrictive nature of the ‘moment’. The silence that we would prefer is somewhat longer than a ‘moment’. Owing to the length of the public school day, and the unavoidable presence of children, we would suggest that the ‘moment’ be extended throughout the school day, approximately 6.5 hours.
Several advantages supported the extended ‘moment of silence’ concept. A student may pray at any time during the day, or even throughout the day. The privacy of silence would allow students of any religious persuasion to practice their beliefs to their hearts content. Even the agnostic, or the atheist could benefit from the silence period. Non-believers could recite the alphabet, or practice the difficult 8s and 9s multiplication tables. A student could daydream without punitive consequences. Children could think whatever they wished for as long as they desired.
Clearly the freedom to think is to be cherished, but there is a greater good that would derive from the extended moment of silence. The teaching population would be spared the incessant talking, whispering, shouting, gossiping, whining, hollering, and cursing that children are inclined to do. The constitutionally mandated daylong period of silence would free teachers from demanding silence, or punishing for speaking out of turn. The classroom would never again resound with such teacher outburst such as: Shut-up! Cut it out! No talking! Button your lip! Both the teacher and the student would have their privacy protected by the constitution. A student would never have to respond to a question, and possibly be in error. A non-responsive student might simply be engrossed in prayer. A prayer that is protected by all of the power of the United States Supreme Court.
We are proud of our chosen profession, and the responsibility that we have for the education of our children. We believe more than ever that silence is golden. We believe that prayer is good, but silence is better.
Amercan Federation of Teachers.
Cc: Newt Gingrich
Copyright 1994, Writer’s Cramp, Tom Golden