It seems that the Common Core is finding new and improved ways to ruin our children’s scholastic experience. As if sharing their personal information, asking them nonsensical questions and exposing them to unwanted advertising wasn’t enough, as a response to the federal standards, schools are taking away the very time that gives children a release from the classroom. Schools across the nation are reducing the amount of time for recess, or simply removing it from students schedules altogether. As Forbes points out, this trend has many detrimental consequences to our children:
The NBC TODAY show recently reported on 23 elementary schools in Orange County, Florida, that have been reducing recess to minutes per day or canceling it all together, so that more time can be spent in the classroom. Whoa. Let’s get a grip, folks. In a nation of increasingly obese kids, getting rid of recess makes no sense.
Orange County schools aren’t alone in the drive to keep kids locked in class all day. School administrators across the United States are making similar schedule changes. Why? Apparently, the drive to dismantle the jungle gyms of America is in response to Common Coreexaminations.
Less than five years ago, the governors of 45 states and the District of Columbia took up the Common Core standards. They began implementing them with the support of the Obama administration, which aimed at common standards and assessments as a means of comparing achievement in math, language arts, and literacy across schools in the states. In short order, teachers and students started orienting themselves towards the Common Core set of mandatory standardized tests. And because a mechanism in the Common Core often ties teachers’ pay and job status to the results of student performance on those tests, many schools have taken the block of time regularly carved-out for recess and put it towards classroom time to teach the test.
This was a trend back in the late 90’s and 2000’s here in Florida. Former Governor Jeb Bush introduced the concept of high-stakes testing as part of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, and schools began to remove recess in order to accommodate the scheduling demands of preparing children for the test. As you can imagine, a multitude of parents, educators and children were not thrilled about that. The teachers who I spoke with back then lamented that the children acted up with a primary outlet of physical activity.
For those committed to keeping kids in the classroom, which keeps them away from the playground, consider the following:
- Rates of childhood obesity have more than doubled in children during the past 30 years and about 18% of children in the U.S. are obese, according to both a report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association;
- Countries that are internationally regarded as having the best education systems, such as Finland, schedule time for students to have unstructured breaks throughout the day;
- Activities—physical, emotional, cognitive, and social—that children regularly engage in during recess are essential to development and well-being, in childhood and throughout the lifespan.
- Kids eat better and healthier when they get recess.
“Preparing America’s students for success” is one of the slogans often trumpeted by the Common Core initiative. It is a terrific aspiration—and an even better objective. But if you ask most parents, teachers and students, they will tell you that, under current conditions, it is closer to imprisonment than education.
Sadly, this is where high-stakes testing leads to. School administrators and teachers react to the pressure of the test by ‘teaching to the test’ which means less time for other activities that give meaning to a child’s scholastic development. Everything is sacrificed for academics because the consequences of not making the imposed goals are so severe. States and schools don’t want to lose funding, and teachers and administrators don’t want to lose their jobs. The ones who suffer when we all race to cover our own tails are our children.
There is no doubt that children achieve more academically, feel better socially, and are just all-around healthier when they are given the time to engage in physical and social opportunities that recess affords. But as long as we have high-stakes testing, their well being will continually be sacrificed in the name of preparing them for “success”.
With serious questions arising about how Common Core is data mining our children, southern states are preparing to back out on the federal K-12 standards in education. This is an issue for moderates, liberals and conservatives. Here at Take Back Your Classrooms, we are going to give people a nonpartisan perspective on this educational crisis, and hopefully a way out. If enough of us make noise, at the right time, to the right people, then I believe that we can force our lawmakers to remove this cancer from our children’s lives. Join us, and let’s take back our classrooms!