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Schools could allow ‘inspirational messages’ under bill sent to Gov. Scott

by John Kennedy | March 1st, 2012

After fierce debate, the House approved a measure Thursday allowing school boards to let students deliver “inspirational messages” in classrooms — a move critics say is aimed at promoting unconstitutional school prayer.

The measure (CS/SB 98) was already OK’d by the Senate and now goes to Gov. Rick Scott, who is expected to sign it into law. The House voted 88-27.

But the legislation divided lawmakers — with many Democrats warning it would subject students from minority religions to possible discrimination.

Rep. Lori Berman, D-Delray Beach, said she recalled growing up as one of eight Jewish children in an elementary school, where she was uncomfortable whenever religious matters were discussed. She said it was important for lawmakers to protect children and their constitutional rights.

“Our constitution protects us from state-sponsored prayer, and this bill is clearly unconstitutional,” Berman said.

But Rep. Charles Van Zant, R-Keystone Heights, recalled that “inspirational messages” were allowed in schools until the early 1960s. In those days, he said, the most common classroom problems were chewing gum and talking in class, compared to today’s issues of drugs, sex and violence.

“I believe…this will improve some of the problems we have in school,” Van Zant told the House.

The bill would allow school boards to adopt policies giving students authority to deliver “an inspirational message,” during the student portion of any assembly. Administrators, teachers, coaches and other school personnel would be prohibited from reviewing the message or editing it.

Florida law currently also allows students to have a brief period — no more than two minutes — at the start of each school day for silent prayer or meditation. Volunteer prayer groups also are authorized to meet at schools.

Rep. Irv Slosberg, D-Boca Raton, said any school board that sought to enact the policy would be ensnared in a lawsuit.

“The only message we’re going to be sending is ‘hello school boards, get out your checkbooks,’” Slosberg said.

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6 Responses to “Schools could allow ‘inspirational messages’ under bill sent to Gov. Scott”

  1. Frankie Says:

    That’s what your elected representatives do all day in Tallahassee. They come up with policy that is so unconstitutional that it is GUARANTEED to end up in the Supreme Court at the expense of our school boards. I hope some students from less common religions create a big roar by delivering “inspirational messages” that will not be the majority’s liking.

  2. Same Ole, Same Ole Says:

    As said before, I am a science guy with a naturalistic worldview free of supernatural and mystical elements. I also have no problems with my super naturalists fellow Floridians believing whatever they want as long as they do not proselytize.

    If they want to teach their kids there is an invisible man in the sky who controls everything, that is fine and part of their liberty in our relatively-still-free country. But, such nonsense does not belong in a public educational environment with its inferred affirmation.

    Having said that, one minute of complete silence at the beginning of the day for all students to reflect on whatever, if they want, is fine by me.

  3. Prejewdice Says:

    OMG, the jews will hate this. It’s okay to attack ‘certain’ religions, but certainly not other religions. And if Israel barks, the USA wags its tail.

    Go send your sons and daughters to war, to die on the sands in the Middle East, while the State of Israel keeps their children from fighting beside our youth.

  4. Vouchers for ALL Says:

    The answer to these problems at schools, is to allow all parents to receive vouchers for each of their children and be allowed to enter them into schools of their own choice. Those schools could be public, they could be private, they could be charter, they could be Virtual, they could be parochial.

    It should be up to the parents to place their children in schools which reflect their value system.

  5. esther Says:

    As Prejewdice above says: Jews would not like this. He is right We Jews do not like this and his/her comments are just the reason we do not like it.This law takes Florida back to the 50th when KKK controlled Florida. It is religiously divisive,(do you know the meaning of the word Prejewdice?) unconstitutional, and harmful to children’s religious freedom.It should be vetoed! And for Prejewdice’s info: there are MANY Jews in the American army fighting America’s wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan. where are you? in your neighborhood’s bar wasting your money on beer complaining that Jews are taking all your money? How pathetic.

  6. objective Says:

    This is not about Jewish, Muslim, Atheist,Lutheran,Catholic,Baptist,
    Episcopalian, Presbyterian or Agnostic. Its about the FREEDOM to choose whatever religion or lack of one. Its about infringing on our constitutional rights. It is not right to make a child feel awkward just because someone else believes a quote or prayer will make all their problems go away. It wont.

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