A new law to mandate recess time in Florida has hit a major roadblock. Children love to go outside and play, and studies show this time is important for their learning and development, but an influential state senator says individual teachers and schools should be able to make their own decisions about play time.
Lawmakers in the Florida State House of Representatives passed a “Recess Bill” last week, which would guarantee Florida elementary school children at least 20 minutes of free play time. The bill has more than 50 co-sponsors and passed 112 to 2 in the House, but is doomed to fail in the Senate.
Senator John Legg, Chairman of the Pre-K Committee, has refused to put the bill on the agenda.
“Senator Legg needs to give the bill the chance to let the senators vote on it,” said Barbara Hedge, a Pinellas County mom. “The senators represent us and our children. Let them vote ‘no’ if they want to, but [Legg] needs to put it on [the agenda]. One man should not block the entire process.”
In cases like this, where a bill has not received a single committee hearing, the measure requires a unanimous vote to pass. Senator Legg’s unwillingness to change his stance makes him an effective roadblock for the legislation.
In a statement to local channel FOX 13, Legg defended his opposition to the recess bill.
“I completely support recess and giving our principals the ability to manage school-based issues,” Chairman Legg [said]. “The scheduling of the school day is best determined by our local education leaders, not a one-size-fits-all Tallahassee recess mandate. This proposed mandate removes a teacher’s ability to manage their classroom, and it fails to consider parental choice and the uniqueness of each student.”
“Those closest to the school need to be empowered with the discretion to manage their own schedule,” Senator Legg concluded. “Administrators, school board members, superintendents and parents are encouraged to engage in local recess solutions that work best for their community.”
A group of 30* supporters, many of whom are dubbed “recess moms,” seemed to disagree. They spoke in favor of the bill, and convinced the Florida House. “Recess is educational time well spent,” said Kristi Burns, a Lake County mother who traveled to Tallahassee to push for the bill’s passage.
Many parents are reportedly concerned that the emphasis on preparing kids for state and county tests leads teachers to eliminate play time from the school day. Numerous studies show this recess is critical for children’s physical, mental, and social development, but an argument can be made that individual teachers and schools should be able to make the decisions themselves.
Should kids get guaranteed recess? Leave us a comment and let us know what you think.
*Update from our Facebook page:
Thanks for letting us know, Angela!