Mandatory Recess Will Be Proposed In Florida Again
According to the Tampa Bay Times, a parent-backed proposal for daily recess at all of Florida’s public elementary schools will be brought before the Florida Legislature again next spring.
On Tuesday Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, filed a bill similiar to the one that died last spring when then-education policy chairman John Legg, R-Trinity, refused to hear it in the committee despite the big support it was receiving.
SB 78 for the 2017 session mandates local school boards to offer 20 minutes of “supervised, safe and unstructured free-play recess” for students in kindergarten through fifth grade each day.
The effort will again be led by Orlando Republican Rep. Rene Plasencia, who is in the process of drafting his bill for 2017 and hopes to file it soon.
While some school districts in Florida already offer recess in some form, parents argue the district’s policies don’t go far enough or aren’t always enforced. Parents want a uniform statewide standard for recess and have cited physical and mental benefits for children that have time to play with other kids on the playground. Even a 20 minute recess would give children a break from classroom studies to refresh their mind and keep their attention on classwork when they reenter the classroom.
Last session’s proposed bill was initiated by parents from all across Florida- mostly moms in Tampa and Orlando, as well as Miami-Dade. The bill mandating daily recess passed the House last spring, but was stalled in the Senate when Sen. Legg wouldn’t listen to it. Sen. Legg repeatedly said recess was a local issue for county school boards to determine.
Other Senators had disagreed and late-session efforts by one senator to bypass Legg were unsuccessful. Local school boards might have a hard time finding the time for recess in an already packed schedule.