A lawmaker from Kansas suggested that it's not funding that will improve the public school system. Republican Rep. Randy Garber said in a privilege speech during the deliberations on a school funding bill last Saturday that the real solution in refining public education lies in prayers and Bible readings.
Lawmakers in Kansas have been debating over the increase of school funding to $500 million. In October last year, Kansas Supreme Court ruled that its public school funding was short and inadequate based on its constitution.
A bill proposing to increase funds to $500 million from its current $400 million was entered in both House and Senate floors. Republicans questioned the proposal during the deliberation, with some critically disputing the move.
"I say the way to fix our schools is to put prayer and the Bible back in and give it a chance," Garber said.
Garber also said in his speech that problems in education and society could be attributed to the absence of prayers in school. He cited that SAT scores dropped when state-sponsored prayers were disallowed since 1963. The Republican representative also said that since public schools banned prayers, sexually transmitted diseases in the youth sector, unwed young women, aggravated assault and abortion increased.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the 1960s that teachers and school staff couldn't initiate prayers in classes. Students, however, are free to practice their beliefs, including prayers and Bible studies in their own time in school.
Education lobbyist Mark Desetti of the Kansas National Education Association, however, disagreed with Garber's statement. Democratic Rep. Jim Award also expressed disappointment in Garber's speech.
"The idea that suddenly if kids are praying, or if kids are under orders to pray, that it's going to solve everything — that's just the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard," Desetti said.
Meanwhile, lawmakers in Kansas ended their deliberations that Saturday evening with a $534 million increase in public school funding, which will be divided in five years. Senators voted 21–19 on the bill, while the House voted 63–56.