In the military, it is a fast marching pace. In the working world, it is a twice the pay (and a heftier paycheck!). But in Arizona, double time now means something….a little different. Governor Doug Ducey recently signed a new law requiring two recess periods per day for students in kindergarten through fifth grades.
The legislation is the culmination of a decade-long battle by some lawmakers and education advocates who have argued that letting kids get up and move around will actually help with their academic performance.
According to Tucson.com, “Prior efforts were sidelined amid concerns that more time on the playground would mean less time for reading, writing and arithmetic. But Sen. Sylvia Allen, R-Snowflake, wrote the final version in a way to blunt those concerns.”
For example, it spells out that the lunch break can be counted as one of the two recess periods if students are allowed to interact with others or engage in physical activity.
It also does not specify how long each recess period need to be, and says schools need not extend the school day to make up for the lost class time.
A number of parents, teachers and health experts supported the proposal claiming recess recess can benefit young students both mentally and physically. However, ABC15 in Phoenix pointed out that there was opposition to the proposal.
Organizations representing school administrators and school boards opposed the proposal. They aired concerns about the state overstepping local control, including Mark Joraanstad, the executive director of Arizona School Administrators.
“We’re disappointed it was passed,” he said. “We believe that determination of that issue of school recess should be left to local schools and local school boards, and that’s the best place to decide such issues.”
However, supporters claim too many young students are under too much pressure at school and they believe the extra recess will help. The Daily Miner in Kingman quoted Sen. Allen as telling her colleagues during hearings earlier this year, “Our children are very stressed.’’
Some of that, Allen said, is due to home life and the breakdown of the family. And she said some of it follows the increased pressure on schools for academic performance.
Allen said schools can’t have students under those kinds of stresses and then expect them to perform academically.
“Recess is allowing kids to go out and let it go,’’ she said.
The new law will first apply kindergarten through third grade classes with fourth and fifth grade classes added on in 2019. We’d love to hear your thoughts on the state’s new mandate requiring two recesses per day for young students. Will this new version of ‘double time’ be time well spent or do you worry that it may interfere with schoolwork? Generating thoughtful discussions around the health issues in our state is another way we are working toward our long-term of making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!