Season 2-Episode 6: The Podcast Twins Go To The Statehouse
Last Wednesday, September 4, the Joint Committee on Education held a hearing and invited testimony on about 40 pieces of Legislation referred to the Committee for their recommendation. Among the bills for which citizen input was being solicited were four bills regarding mandating a minimum of 20 minutes recess for Grades K-5.
Unfortunately, this public input session was scheduled on the first day of school for many communities across the Commonwealth - and actually the 4th day of school for Grades 1-12 in Lowell (first day for PreK and K students). The unfortunate timing of the hearing meant that many practitioners from across Massachusetts could not give their input.
Since education reform changed the dynamic of the school day, we have observed a gradual diminishing of recess time. As Mickie points out in her testimony, “our kids are not okay”. Children need recess breaks to not only learn and practice social skills, recess is a necessity when it comes to brain science and how our students meet the demands of the rigorous curricula found in PreKindergarten through 12th grade.
Lowell Education Justice Alliance (LEJA) successfully advocated for more uniform recess periods across the Lowell Public Schools and were able to ensure that all students in Grades PK-4 were given a minimum of 20 minutes recess each day with 2 additional 5-minute brain breaks scheduled, one for the morning and one in the afternoon. At the Middle School (Grades 5-8) level, a minimum of 15 minutes recess with two 5 minute brain breaks was implemented.
Here in Lowell, our schools and administrators recognize the importance of recess to the development of the whole child; however, implementation of equitable access to recess has not been easily accomplish.
In this podcast recording, Mickie and Amy have recorded the testimony given before the Joint Committee on Education. As retired educators who have experienced the difference allowing students adequate “downtime” can make, we are passionate about this issue. We were encouraged that Joint Committee Chair, Alice Peisch, and others on the Committee, mentioned time and again that everyone understands the need for students to have recess breaks. We are watching this legislation close, as we hope you are too, and will continue to keep Members up to date.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Lowell Education Justice Alliance or LEJA is a grassroots coalition of parents, students, education professionals and community members. The group meets regularly to plan and advocate for our students and public schools. Go to LEJA’S FACEBOOK page to learn more. New members are welcome!
LEJA’s Recess Policy Proposal Document contains additional links to research and reports about recess.
The Massachusetts Joint Committee on Education maintains a webpage which lists hearings and bills that the Committee is involved in. Visit that Committee’s page here.
Thank you for tuning in to this Episode of Straight Talk. We hope that if you enjoy what you hear, you’ll consider subscribing to our podcast using Apple Podcasts or Stitcher. As always, we welcome your general comments and feedback. If you have suggestions for future podcast topics or if you are aware of a UTL495 member who might be willing to share experiences or expertise, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.