by: Leslie Postal|Orlando Sentinel
January 25, 2016
A parent-pushed measure to require 20 minutes of daily recess in all of Florida’s public elementary schools is to get its first committee hearing Tuesday.
The bill, and its Senate companion, would require all elementary schools to work 20 minutes of recess into their daily schedule. It would also prohibit educators from taking recess away from kids for “academic or punitive” reasons.
The Senate version, sponsored by Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, has not been heard in committee yet. Some of the parent backers have said they are worried Senate leaders do not want to take up the bill.
The bills were pushed by Florida parents — many of them local — upset that recess has been fading from Florida schools, with some campuses offering it only to their youngest students or only on Fridays. Schools have curtailed it in part to meet state academic requirements, such as providing a 90-minute block of reading instruction.
But these parents argue students need a break from academics in order to better focus on their lessons. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Association for Sport and Physical Education both agree, as both recommend daily recess for young kids.
The parents had some success in the past few years convincing the Lake and Orange school districts to work in more recess, but they pushed for law because they feared the local changes wouldn’t stick.
Current state law does not require recess for public schools.
House staff said a recess mandate could cost school districts more money, presumably because they might need to extend the school day to work in recess along with other state requirements.
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