Mandatory Recess Bill Makes Its Way Through House

On Monday, the Arizona House passed HB2082, which will require all schools “to provide no less than a total of 50 minutes of unstructured recess each school day in grades K-5. The bill is expected to pass on a roll-call vote and proceed to the Senate.

The bill, which will have a devastating impact on schools that offer formal Physical Education (PE) classes, was proposed by Rep. Jesus Rubacalva.

While recess and PE are two completely different items, schools struggle now to meet the instructional hours requirements as it is. Should they be required to offer 50 minutes as opposed to the 15 minutes normally allotted in elementary schools, reaching instructional hour requirements would be difficult, if not impossible.

A.R.S. Section 15-901 addresses the minimum number of instructional hours to be offered by schools.

When advised that school board members were concerned that the bill could harm existing PE programs, House Whip Kelly Townsend, who had also prepared a bill requiring recess, remarkably stated that in her research she couldn’t find schools that offered PE.

The bill was amended to require students enrolled in half-day kindergarten to be given no less than a total of 25 minutes of unstructured recess time.

The bill makes no provisions for students in other grades that attend schools that have regularly scheduled half-day sessions.

The bill also takes away a teacher’s right to withhold unstructured recess time from a student as punishment without notification to the student’s parent or guardian.

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1 Comment

  1. Local control in education is always a topic of discussion. In this case, should the State of AZ be the “local” decision maker of recess length for ALL schools OR should a local school district be the body that decides the length of recess time?

    Do kids need to move around to grow and develop? Yes, and no would argue that. I am not convinced that our Legislature needs to stick its thumb over schools deciding the appropriate recess time.

    Recess Legislation has popped up in many states. The reasons Parents give for wanting a bill to fix recess is because the
    Ivory Tower Political Mandates which demand adherence to a set of faulty education standards and high stakes testing. These mandates and metrics have driven schools to narrowly focus on a few subjects (Math and English Language Arts)over the balance of many subjects which would result in a well rounded student. Districts who fear not being rated and A or B by the state may lose focus on doing what’s best for children daily.

    Instruction time has also been compromised as teachers spend many classroom hours reviewing and preparing students to take the Big High Stakes test.

    In an effort to improve student “outcomes,” the emphasis on learning takes a secondary role. See, it’s the score on the Big High Stakes test that is the major factor to determine if a teacher, principal, school, and child is a “success.” A high test score equals a good “outcome.” Many schools have “practice” High Stakes Test to prepare for the actual High Stakes Test.

    Parents don’t think much of a score on a state test. We care if our children are learning and can think for themselves.

    PE (physical education) Art, and Music have been dismissed as less important classes since no Big High Stakes Test metric is associated with these classes as is the case in Common Core. (yes we still have that in AZ and everywhere else despite what you have heard)

    I am very surprised to read Rep Townsend has a list of schools that stopped offering PE. It would be interesting and revealing to see why those Districts or Charters felt they couldn’t offer PE. That’s its own important story.

    I am glad that Teachers would need to speak with Parents about withholding recess. This starts a conversation about addressing the issue that caused the Teacher to withhold recess in the first place. I am sad for the kids whose Teachers and Parents didn’t talk about taking away recess time. It seems like a logical conversation to have. I know I’ve had those conversations with a Teacher and my kid.

    Bottom line: If Legislators feel guilt that little kids no longer get to run and expel physical energy in school, they could ease the pressure valve of high stakes testing on students, teachers, and principals. Let those closest to the students determine the amount of recess, PE etc NOT lawmakers.

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