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Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
7:43 AM Sun, Jan. 20th

Column: Our children have a right to recess, with or without the state’s help

'Raising Prescott'

When did mandatory recess become a hot topic of discussion around the parental water cooler?

Has recess become the next thing in line on the educational chopping block? Some state schools have already cut recess in half, or all together.

And then there are parent groups who have fought for recess, helping the state’s lawmakers craft Senate Bill 1083, which requires all Arizona schools to have at least two recess periods built within each school day for grades kindergarten through fifth grade.

SB 1083 passed unanimously by the Senate Education Committee last week. It’s up to the House and Senate to take it further.

In February, 2017, our editorial board for The Daily Courier proposed allowing individual schools to chart their own course when it comes to recess periods, opposing state control.

Like most people, I’m all for less governmental control and state overreach. What’s next, regulating how many seconds a student gets to sharpen their pencil? Go to the bathroom? Or how many ounces of water they drink?

The balancing act enters into the equation when we begin focusing solely on our children’s educational experience.

And yes, recess is part of their educational experience. Just like math, science, career and technical education and history courses are woven into the fabric of our students’ day at school, and requirements of the state, by the way, why shouldn’t recess?

Are we really ready to take away one of the best ways for a child to socialize, be physically active and take a break from a newly-found rigorous academic schedule at even the kindergarten, or first-grade level? Are we willing to sacrifice our kids’ health and wellbeing by exchanging 30 minutes a day of uncontrolled play time for not-so-focused study time?

Organizations such as the Arizona School Boards Association and the Arizona School Administrators are.

Perhaps we’re all a little too concerned about the money to pay for recess and forgetting the fact that a 6-year-old student probably shouldn’t sit at a desk in a classroom setting for 7-plus hours a day. What’s 15 minutes twice a day? It takes school officials longer to get kindergarten students in a straight line for lunch.

Christine Davis, a founding member of the Arizonans for Recess coalition, told the Arizona Republic in a Jan. 22 article titled, “Parents push Arizona lawmakers to require more recess for students,” that the state’s youngest learners need this bill’s protection.

“Sadly, common sense has left too many of our school buildings,” Davis told the Republic.

So as parents, what do we do? What can we do?

The best avenue is speaking with your local school administration, teachers and principals. School boards exist for a reason. Approach them. Keep the discussion moving.

I’m against a district taking away those precious minutes of recess to potentially get more money from Gov. Doug Ducey in a funding-carrot hung in front of our faces.

I vote for mandatory recess, but let’s handle it at the local level.

Brian M. Bergner Jr. is sports editor for The Daily Courier, the Prescott Valley Tribune and the Chino Valley Review. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @SportsWriter52 or on Facebook at @SportsAboveTheFold. Email or call 928-445-3333, ext. 1106.