Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Assault on Recess

I remember recess at Central School well. Kickball, four square, running, marbles, and more kickball. If the point was to have us blow off steam and excess energy, recess worked every day. We had morning recess, lunch recess, and PE in the afternoon a couple times a week. Being active, whether at recess or in the gymnasium was integral to our day's learning.

But that was before "No Child Left Behind", which has served to reduce recess time in many school systems across the country, as they focus all of their resources and planning to meet the Bush Administration's "pass the test or else" policies.

I'm still looking for some solid research that documents these reductions (it must exist, yes?), although there have been a lot of anecdotal examples out there for the past few years. In 2005 said:
"We've heard examples of where PE [physical education] and recess have been cut back," said Daniel Kaufman, a spokesman for the National Education Association, which represents 2.7 million teachers and support staff. "We're hearing, for example, of schools cutting back on PE and recess in order to make sure they have time to focus on preparing students to take standardized tests." also speaks of the changes due to NCLB:
Many school districts blame the national emphasis on high-stakes testing in the public schools for dwindling recess time. The federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2002, in particular, puts pressure on school administrators to have their districts’ standardized test scores improve every year.

“Principals are in a tough situation,” says Tony Harduar, president of the National Association of Elementary School Principals. These administrators know that kids need exercise, he says, but they also feel the sting of legislation aimed at improving test scores and bolstering basic skills. “A principal’s job can depend on the decision he or she makes,” Harduar says of the recess issue.

So where does this all lead? To what's been called a Nation of Couch Potatoes.

I think instead of NCLB, we need to follow the lead of the Movement and declare No Child Left Inside.