Prayer in schools is the solution to problems in public education, a Kansas Republican lawmaker said Saturday.
“I say the way to fix our schools is to put prayer and the Bible back in and give it a chance,” said Rep. Randy Garber of Sabetha.
His comments came during a House debate over a plan to increase school funding by $500 million over five years. Lawmakers are seeking to respond to a Kansas Supreme Court decision that found schools are inadequately funded under the state constitution.
Students may pray in schools now. U.S. Supreme Court decisions in the 1960s stopped school-led prayers, however.
Mark Desetti, a lobbyist for the Kansas National Education Association, said there is prayer in schools each day — there just isn’t organized, directed prayer for one faith.
“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.
In a wide-ranging speech, Garber linked societal problems and education performance to the lack of prayer in schools. He also spoke critically of judicial review, the long-standing American principle that says courts have the ability to determine the constitutionality of laws.
Garber contended that SAT scores fell once state-sponsored prayer was prohibited in 1963. Some Christians believe that the prohibition of state-sponsored prayer led to lower test scores and other problems.
“STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) skyrocketed, birth rates among unwed girls skyrocketed, and our answer to that is abortion. We won’t talk about that today. Pregnancies to girls under 15 skyrocketed. Aggravated assault arrests — I could go on and on,” Garber said.
Garber’s speech came near the end of a debate over school funding that lasted hours. The House voted 63-56 to pass the $500 million plan.