Recess Comments and Response

These are a few of the comments made by Deputy Commissioner Abbot at the December 9 Council Meeting during the discussion on recess and our response.

Deputy Commissioner Abbot’s comments
Parents Across Rhode Island’s Response
“We’re not aware that kids are being denied recess.”

We shared our comments that show that this happening in our petition, in the public hearing and at the meeting. One might conclude that for every time recess is being denied to your child, you should reach out directly to RIDE to let them know, as they do not seem to think this a real problem.

“The Commissioner feels very strongly that although he’s absolutely in favor of recess, he also thinks that this is not the time that we should in any way be diminishing the amount of instructional time that we owe our children, especially in the elementary grades when our reading scores in third grade are just really inexcusable.”

This suggests that the Commissioner and RIDE miss the point regarding the importance of recess.

Research has shown that adequate recess results in better results for learning. This is the point of ensuring free play time.

“The issue really is that if you are going to provide an adequate recess opportunity and you’re going to provide 330 minutes of instructional time to an elementary student, will that extend the school day? It may.”

This is particularly concerning to Parents Across RI because it suggests that the RIDE is aware that adequate recess is not being provided and that is ok so long as 330 minutes of instruction is.

“The irony is other than civics really the only things that that state law requires are physical education and recess.”

We are not lawyers, but we searched the Rhode Island Statues for anything that suggests there is a law that requires recess before asking the council to include recess in the regulations. The only law that even comes close that we found is this:

RIGL § 16-22-4 Instruction in health and physical education requires instruction in health and physical education which shall average at least twenty (20) minutes in each school day.

This is not a law that ensures recess. This is a law that requires Phys.Ed. and health instruction that averages to 20 minutes each day.

“If there are districts out there that are either not providing recess or providing recess and not providing 330 minutes of instructional time, they are out of compliance with one regulation or the other.”

As the agency tasked with making sure that districts are in compliance, it is the responsibility of RIDE to ensure that compliance occurs. Our point from the beginning is that the BEP is inadequate at ensuring recess because RIDE has no mechanism to ensure compliance solely from the BEP. It is only through state statute or through regulations that recess is ensured, which is why we asked it be included in the regulations.

This is precisely the circuitous conversation that leads parents to incredible frustration to throw their hands up and walk away. It’s almost as if that’s what they want from us.

We again request that RIDE and the Council provide a mechanism, if not through regulation, than some other manner that will ensure adequate recess is provided to our children.