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Make our schoolchildren happy.
The Constitution demands it

By Oliver Del Signore

Oliver Del Signore

August 27, 2001

"As long as there are tests, there will be prayer in public schools."

Have truer words ever been spoken – or printed on a bumper sticker?

I've seen that slogan many times over the years, as have most of us, but it wasn't until a few days ago that I really started to think about the implications. It is true, of course, that children pray regularly before tests. "Please God, just let me pass this geometry quiz and I promise not to bypass NetNanny and look at dirty pictures ever again." And it is equally true our venerable and wise Supreme Court justices have repeatedly slathered mortar and bricks on the "wall of separation" between the state and anything to do with religion. They have made it abundantly clear that in their opinion – as opposed to what the Constitution actually says – anything resembling God and religion has no place in anything to do with government., and, as good citizens, we have an obligation to obey both the spirit and the letter of the law as they pronounce it to be.

Which is why we must immediately abolish testing in public schools. Since the Supremes' rulings prohibit government from doing anything that promotes religious activity, and since praying is clearly a religious activity, whether done silently or aloud, it follows that the activity encouraging the praying must be stopped lest some child who does not pray find herself at a disadvantage, i.e., having to take the test without divine assistance.

Now, some will say silent prayer in schools has been ruled okay, and it has. Kids are allowed to pray whenever the spirit moves them, as long as they do it in silence and don't get caught not paying attention to the teacher. But that kind of praying is a general thing and could happen anytime or anyplace. Praying before tests is different since, without the test, there would be no prayers. Clearly, government sponsored activity is inducing our children to pray on public property, and based on the Supremes' logic, such activity must be a violation of the First Amendment.

We really have no choice. How many more kids will have to suffer the humiliation and loss of self-esteem that must assuredly come from being the oddball who does not invoke God's help? We must put a stop to this atrocity. This is a crisis situation. Testing must be eliminated to satisfy the Constitution. And the good news is there will be other benefits as well.

Not only will the new no-test policy make our liberal/socialist neighbors happy by further strengthening the "wall," they'll be moaning in ecstasy when they realize, by this one action alone, we will finally have achieved one of their most sought after goals, academic egalitarianism. All kids will now appear intellectually equal, since there will be no way to differentiate between those who studied and learned and those who hung around at the mall or spent their evening watching South Park. Teachers will continue to teach and some students will continue to learn, but the smart kids will no longer be able to taunt their academically challenged peers with the As and Bs they earn. Slow Johnny will be able to feel just as good about himself as will bright Jenny.

Even if this were not a Constitutional issue, it seems to me common decency requires us to put an end to this evil activity since it only serves to accentuate the differences between our children. Yes, we must celebrate their diversity, but not about things that might make them feel bad. Our kids need inclusion, not segregation by intellectual class.

We must stop the testing now. For the children.

Oliver Del Signore is a freelance writer, proofreader, creative consultant, website designer, and the webmaster for Backwoods Home Magazine. He welcomes comments and inquiries via email to

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