The schools in the Mat-Su will have one minute of silence at the beginning of each day. On a vote of five to one, the Mat-Su School Board enacted a school district policy on Wednesday, one that has students and teachers observing 60 seconds of silence each school day.
That time is the opportunity to pray. Or students may think about the last lesson in Marxist ideology that was presented in their history class the day before, or which version of LGBTQ a student wants to identify as on that particular day. Students can use the time to memorize their times tables or think about who to ask to prom. Or they can just take a moment to enjoy silence, which has its own important lessons, according to many educators.
One member of the school board voted no: Dwight Probasco said it’s just one more thing teachers have to do. And, he said, moments of silence should be reserved for death.
The resolution was introduced by School Board President Ryan Ponder at a recent meeting. Other than member Probasco objecting, there was little negative response from the public. In fact, the most forceful response came from the Anchorage Daily News, which called the minute of silence “compulsory” and reported that some students will have a hard time sitting still for one minute.
Teachers in the Mat-Su are prohibited from suggesting to students how they use that minute of silence and may not encourage prayer or no prayer.
In Florida in 2021, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a law that have schools across the state holding a daily moment of silence for at least one minute, and up to two minutes. The legislation that made its way through the Florida legislature said, “The Legislature finds that our youth, and society as a whole, would be well served if students in the public schools were afforded a moment of silence at the beginning of each school day.”
During the debate over that state law, atheist organizations spoke out against the bill, saying it was a way of sneaking prayer into schools.