NCLB also leaves recess (and art and music) behind
EdWonk has a post today from the NYTimes reporting that many schools are cutting back on untested school subjects in a quest to meet the reading and math standards under the No Child Left Behind Act.
(To which I say, those of us in the Edsphere have been talking about that for a while now. No surprises there. Assorted Stuff also got inspired by this today.)
Then there's this little tidbit from the Boston Herald:
With schools scrapping recess to tack on more test-prep time, parents in Massachusetts and across the nation are rebelling against the nose-to-the-grindstone trend that robs their kids of vital play time.
“I think it’s terrible. The school yard is dormant,” said Teresa Pimentel, the parent liaison at the Ralph M. Small School in Fall River, where officials have shelved a 15-minute morning recess in exchange for silent reading and writing until the MCAS tests are over.
Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System tests start this week. School administrators and teachers anxious to perform are drilling third- and fourth-graders.
Nationwide, 40 percent of elementary schools have either eliminated recess or are considering shortening students’ free time on the playground, according to the National Parent Teacher Association, which is partnering with the Cartoon Network for the “Rescuing Recess” campaign.
“A lot of parents and the public are appalled there is no recess in school and they don’t know that it’s happening,” said Anna Weselak, National PTA president. The war on recess has already hit the Bay State in several communities.
Peabody parents have been fighting for more than a year to add play time to the school day after Superintendent Nadine Binkley cut recess to 10 minutes a day.
The Frank M. Silvia School in Fall River also recently traded in morning recess for reading time, said Principal Denise Ward.
The Whitman-Hanson Regional Schools have been without morning recess for seven years to accommodate learning demands and MCAS pressure, according to Superintendent John McEwan.
“Success-driven adults are forgetting we have children in schools. They are not business executives. They are not 7-year-old CEOs. They are children and they need to have a break in the middle of the day,” said Beverley Ann Griffin Dunne, a Peabody School Committee member and mother of a third-grade girl. Dunne is pushing a “social development” curriculum that would add 10 minutes of play time to the school day.
Some commenters at Ed's place have commented that this is a good thing. After all, shouldn't schools teach reading and mathematics above all else? And, further, if schools are "failing" at teaching reading and math, should they really be "wasting" precious instructional time on frills? You know, frills like recess for six year olds, art, music, and history?