Not All Arizona Schools Were In Favor Of More Recess

Published: Monday, April 9, 2018 - 7:54pm
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Last week, Arizona Gov. Ducey signed in to law legislation mandating Arizona public schools provide at least two recess periods per day for students.

State Sen. Sylvia Allen sponsored the bill for a number of reasons. The most notable being  the grading of schools based on statewide assessments. This lead to more schools eliminating art, music and recess.

“So the schools just started eliminating recess and it has been a battle, three years, to be able to bring this back," said Allen.

A number of schools in Arizona already have two recess periods. However, according to Sen. Allen, not all schools were in favor of more recess.

“The schools that were not doing recess, they really pushed back very hard for three years and did not want to be forced to have to give a recess," said Allen.

Before approaching Sen. Allen, a number of parents had gone to their local school boards to lobby for more recess. One of those parents is Christine Davis, a Madison School District parent. Davis, who founded the group Arizonans for Recess, said the coalition views recess as a critical childhood need.

“In fact statistics show that recess just continued to shrink and so it reached the point that when you have a basic need and you have that kind of inequity and that unwillingness to meet stakeholders at a local level that’s when it’s time for a law," said Davis.

Mark Joraanstad, executive director of the Arizona School Administrators, said schools will adjust to the new law but it could present challenges.

“Especially when we get to grades 4 and 5 there are required numbers of instructional hours to be held per year. If you’re trying to meet those hours and you don’t come close suddenly you’re carving out 25 minutes a day and 5 days a week that’s a couple hours a week," said Joraanstad.

The new law doesn’t mandate a set amount of time for recess and leaves it up to schools to decide how they will implement the recess periods into their schedules. School districts and charter schools will be required to provide two recess periods for students in kindergarten through third grade.

In 2019, the law will expand to include students through fifth grade.

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