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Mandatory Recess Starts Today for Dallas Public School Students, Similar Measure Vetoed in New Jersey

Mandatory Recess Starts Today for Dallas Public School Students, Similar Measure Vetoed in New Jersey

Starting today, Dallas public school students in pre-K to grade five will have to have at least 20 minutes of recess per day with no exception, not even as punishment for misbehavior.

And starting next year, mandatory recess time will increase to at least 30 minutes per day with the same no-exception mandate.

The Dallas Independent School District Board of Trustees voted on the decision last evening; according to CBS DFW, the board members are firm believers that students who have a chance to take a break and play perform better academically in the long run.

The board members first decided to vote on the matter after parents expressed concern over inconsistent recess policies across schools and districts, and groups of students even showed up to plead their case during the public comment section, said Fox 4 News. 

The concern that young students aren’t getting enough play as focus on early academic instruction takes over is a national one.

"In many places, kindergartners now go with very little — or no — physical education, recess, art and music. Parents have complained, and so have kindergarten teachers, who say they feel as if they are being forced to present curriculum and lessons to kids before they are ready in this era of standardized test-based reform,” said The Washington Post.

Just yesterday afternoon, the Post published an e-mail from veteran kindergarten teacher Valerie Hardy, who says she a big proponent of unstructured play for developing young children, but no longer has a say in providing it.

"I have watched my autonomy shrink more and more over the years. Where I used to be able to stretch out an activity or lesson because my students were engaged and wanting more, I now must stick to the long-range plan. Where before, I could scrap a lesson that wasn’t working and try something else, today I must stick to the standards,” Hardy said in her e-mail to the Post.

While Dallas school districts saw the need for mandating play despite an increased focus on academic instruction, an almost identical measure failed to pass in New Jersey after Gov. Chris Chrsitie vetoed it.

"The governor's office gave no specific reason for not approving the bill, which would have required a 20-minute daily recess period for grades K-5. It instead blamed the state Legislature for passing too many bills at the end of its two-year legislative session,” said NewJersey.com.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

1/29/2016

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