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Moment of Silence to Return to Illinois Schools

By aaroncynic in News on Jan 14, 2011 7:40PM

PrayerMoments of Silence in public schools could once again ignite the debate between separation of church and state. The Chicago Tribune reports Illinois schools Superintendent Christopher Koch told districts that their students may soon begin to observe a moment of silence at the beginning of the day, just before the pledge of allegiance. Illinois students have not been required to participate since 2009, when District Judge Robert Gettleman declared the Silent Reflection and Student Prayer Act Shhhhhh! lawmakers passed in 2007 unconstitutional.

In October, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals decided the law did not specify that the “brief period of silence with the participation of all the pupils” did not specify prayer and had a “practical purpose” to calm students at the beginning of the day. The case was remanded back to Judge Gettleman last week.

The act does not specify specifically how long the “moment” should be. Districts across the state have the ability to define how long their students should sit quietly. Dawn Sherman, daughter of Ron Sherman, the man who initially sued the state over the act in 2007, told the Trib if the act is reinstated she would spend the time working on homework. When asked how she felt about the overturn she said “Talking to my classmates, some agreed with me and some didn't, but we've had a lot of intellectual debates about it. I kept it off my school for most of my high school career, so it's something of an accomplishment even if it is reinstated.”