Governor Kristi Noem and her Republican minions have blasted mandates for vaccines and masks in schools and other precautions to beat a two-year pandemic that has killed 2,522 South Dakotans as unnecessary violations of our freedom. Representative Jon Hansen (R-25/Dell Rapids) has likened mandates of any kind to Nazism.
Yet Republicans like Hansen will likely fall all over themselves to support a statewide school mandate to fight the vague threat of “the frenzy of daily life” and “set a tone of decorum.” Those are the reasons written into Section 1 of House Bill 1015, Governor Noem’s culture-war bill to beef up her previously exaggerated claim that she is making a big push to put prayer in public schools.
Section 1. The legislature of South Dakota finds that schoolchildren and school employees are best served by a moment of silence at the start of every school day to afford them a reprieve from the frenzy of daily life and to set a tone of decorum that will be conducive to learning.
Section 2. That chapter 13-1 be amended with a NEW SECTION:
Each school district shall require students and school employees to have a moment of silence lasting up to one minute each morning that school is in session. Students and school employees may engage in voluntary prayer, reflection, meditation, or other quiet, respectful activity during the moment of silence. No school employee may dictate the action to be taken by students or school employees during the moment of silence. No student may interfere with another student’s engagement in the moment of silence. Nothing in this Act may be construed to permit schools to conduct the moment of silence as a religious exercise [emphasis mine; 2022 House Bill 1015, introduced 2022.01.06].
Every student, every teacher, every janitor must take action to fight a pandemic of frenzy and indecorum. What a violation of personal choice!
The Governor and the Legislature have ignored, and sometimes outright denied, the science and the experience of our crowded hospitals that prove vaccines and masks reduce the harms of coronavirus. What concrete evidence will they offer of the harms caused by this alleged “frenzy” and the alleged lack of “decorum” and the ability of staying silent for a few seconds each day to rectify those harms? And even if they offer such “evidence”, why should we accept this heavy-handed mandate on the actions of every child, teacher, secretary, and janitor in our public schools, a mandate with no exemptions for conscientious objection?
House Education put HB 1015 in the hopper for the Governor. If you hate mandates, you’d better get on the horn to House Education Chair Lana Greenfield (R-2/Doland) and tell her to kill this silence mandate.