Sunday, January 16, 2011

Grassroots effort to restore recess

The Shedd School backlot
Tribune:
 In the nearly five years since Lynn Morton helped begin an effort to restore recess to Chicago elementary schools, she says, she has never come across anyone who doesn't like the idea.

From parents to principals, teachers, Chicago Public Schools leaders and lawmakers, everyone seems to agree that the city's youngest students need time in the school day to play, exercise and socialize.

"In its essence there is no one who is opposed to recess," said Morton, 41, one of an estimated 300 parents organized to work on the issue by Chicago's Community Organizing and Family Issues, or COFI.

When it comes to turning it into policy however, recess in Chicago is more of an obstacle course than a playground. Once a routine part of the school day, it has been squeezed out by curriculum demands, crowding and safety concerns. And what seemed like a step toward restoring the practice — a recent decision by the General Assembly to appoint a task force to look into it — was the victim of what state Sen. Kimberly Lightford, D-Chicago, called legislative red tape.

Over the years, Morton and fellow parents, mostly from the city's Austin, Englewood, West Town, Humboldt Park and North Lawndale neighborhoods, have lobbied principals, CPS officials and legislators for the restoration of recess. Their campaign mirrors a national push led by groups ranging from the National PTA to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The movement has gained additional currency in recent years from the focus on childhood obesity.
 Read the whole thing!

If I recall correctly, recess was fazed out before I left for Bennett after the 6th Grade. I thought part of it was the fact that during the year before I left Shedd, we started having a breakfast/lunch program. Before that students were usually expected to bring a lunch from home.

We'd have recess at 10:30 AM and then we'd eat lunch at 12 Noon. Also at 12 Noon once upon a time we were able to leave school and go home to eat lunch. Eventually that policy would change and we would have to eat lunch at school.

Either way in that picture above, a lot of time was spent in the backlot at Shedd School during recess, once upon a time. :)

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