The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Silence Is Golden?

By Margaret Lyons in News on Oct 11, 2007 11:39PM

The Illinois House approved legislation today that requires a moment of silence at the start of classes. This is the most pressing thing in the State's agenda? Not...say....transit funding? Or that 7-percent cap on property taxes? Or, oh, anything else? We're going to take a little moment of silence right now to think about that. Everyone hush.

OK, we're back. The new law doesn't define how long a "moment" is, nor does it mention any penalties for not observing the moment, nor is there any evidence to suggest moments of silence help kids learn (according to the teacher we talked to; she said "that's a fucking stupid idea"). But we all know there's nothing better or more logical than legislators deciding how classrooms work.

Rep Monique Davis (D-Chicago), a proponent of the bill, argues that "[Kids] come to school listening to their iPods...To just have a moment in a child's life where he or she can be guaranteed a moment of silence, we don't want to give them that?" Opponents of the bill say moments of silence take time away from teaching, plus there's the whole prayer-in-schools angle.

Predictably, Eric Zorn has a pretty thorough smackdown.