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Education

Lawmakers kill Noem’s bill requiring a moment of silence in schools

State lawmakers have killed Governor Kristi Noem’s bill requiring a moment of silence in schools for prayer or reflection.

House Bill 1015 would have required schools to institute a moment of silence of up to one minute at the beginning of each school day. The moment of silence was intended to allow time for students and employees to pray, meditate or engage in quiet reflection. The bill says that no school employee may dictate a student’s action during the moment of silence.

Allen Cambon is a policy advisor for Governor Kristi Noem. He says a moment of silence at the start of the school day would reduce stress levels and instill a sense of decorum and mindfulness in students. Cambon also says it would give students a better awareness of their first amendment rights.

“This is a valuable civic opportunity for them to know they have that opportunity to freely exercise their religion. Especially, in public places.”

Opponents of House Bill 1015 say it is unnecessary because students can already take a moment to pray anytime during the school day and that this right is protected in the state constitution.

Mitch Richter is with the South Dakota United Schools Association. He says school districts and teachers were not consulted about the bill before bringing it to the legislature.

“What you folks want is less government, smaller government, less intrusion. Yet, we bring these types of bills without any contact, without any discussion, on how they are going to work in the classroom.”

Members of the House Education Committee voted to kill the bill by a vote of 9 to 6.

Rob Monson, School Administrators of South Dakota, testifies against moment-of-silence bill