Leave in to San Francisco to bring things full circle. Guess what educators discovered to be effective in public schools? David Kirp at the San Francisco Chronicle reports that
prayer...I mean…quiet time, is working
Twice daily, a gong sounds in the classroom and rowdy adolescents, who normally can’t sit still for 10 seconds, shut their eyes and try to clear their minds. I’ve spent lots of time in urban schools and have never seen anything like it.
This practice – meditation rebranded – deserves serious attention from parents and policymakers. An impressive array of studies shows that integrating meditation into a school’s daily routine can markedly improve the lives of students. If San Francisco schools Superintendent Richard Carranza has his way, Quiet Time could well spread citywide.
What Frisco educators are recognizing is that humans have a spiritual side. While it may be politically incorrect to ask the local quarterback to talk about spiritual discipline, package it up with a slick entrepreneur and an All-Star pitcher, and you can find a way to let the students pray to whomever they choose.
That’s fine in my book. Prayer in school works, be it TM in Frisco, Yoga in Encinitas, kneeling towards Mecca at Carver Elementary, or Bible study in Murrietta. Look at the results reported in the article:
Now these students are doing light-years better. In the first year of Quiet Time, the number of suspensions fell by 45 percent. Within four years, the suspension rate was among the lowest in the city. Daily attendance rates climbed to 98 percent, well above the citywide average. Grade point averages improved markedly. About 20 percent of graduates are admitted to Lowell High School – before Quiet Time, getting any students into this elite high school was a rarity. Remarkably, in the annual California Healthy Kids Survey, these middle school youngsters recorded the highest happiness levels in San Francisco.
Quiet Time is a great idea. Acknowledging a spiritual power, be it the Divine or from within, is the first step towards religious freedom in the public schools. It might not be a bad idea to let some clerics lead “quiet time” alongside the entrepreneurs. Let’s hope this trend catches fire.