New Jersey Parents–Act by Tuesday to Make Sure New Jersey Children Get Recess

Today’s guest blogger, Karen Cecere, is a Howell, New Jersey, parent who got recess restored in her community last year and is now fighting to get recess for all New Jersey children. She is a Girl Scout leader, active PTA member, and is extremely concerned with the growing lack of time for children to be children.

By this coming Tuesday (January 13), she is asking all New Jersey voters to write an email to Senate President Richard Codey and ask that Senate Bill S226 be put on the agenda and brought to the Senate for a vote.

Go to Senator Richard Codey’s website
Click “Contact Your Legislator(s)”
Check “Senator Richard J. Codey”
Click “Select your Representative(s)”
Fill in your name and address and type in your message, ask that bill S226 be added to the agenda for Tuesday, January 13, 2006

Restore Recess in New Jersey
by Karen Cecere

Two years ago I because aware of a serious problem in our schools. Our children were not getting a break! Over 6 hours a day in the class room, homework every night, and the only time they were not learning was when they were eating. No time to relax or burn off energy or unwind.
I happened to meet another mother, Marie Walton, with the same concerns. We, along with a few other concerned parents, grandparents, and professionals, went to the Board of Education and stated our concerns. A committee was formed to try and find a way to get recess back on the schedule for our children. And we did. Our township now has recess every day for every student before lunch time!

But Marie and I were still concerned because we found out that recess, or lack of, was not just a problem in our schools. It was a problem in many schools throughout NJ and across the nation! Organizations such as International Play Association estimate that close to 40% of our children are not getting a break! So while we were trying to get recess for our schools, we also reached out to our legislative representatives. Assemblyman Malone took our concerns seriously and presented a bill to the Assembly (A467), which calls to establish a Task Force to study the benefits of recess and make recommendations on advisability of mandatory recess in school districts. At the same time, Senator Robert Singer presented an identical bill (S226) in the NJ Senate. At this time, A467 has been approved by an almost unanimous full Assembly vote. We are still waiting for S226 to be presented to the Senate for vote.

It seems like such a simple thing. It seems small in comparison to the other bills that are going through the New Jersey Senate right now. But what is more important than our future? What is more important than the health, mental and physical, of the people who will one day run our country? We need to take care of our future now.

The situation of recess in schools right now is a serious problem. With core subject requirements, pressures of state testing, and financial restrictions many schools have chosen or been forced to give up the things that seem least important. Many schools have chosen to give up recess or left the option of recess up to the individual teachers. But recess is not just a waste of extra time. That mental and physical break is important to the learning process of the children. That down time is a chance for them to process what they are learning. How many times do adults need to step away to think? This is a child’s time to step away. Recess is also a time to blow off energy. In a country where obesity is on the rise, juvenile onset of type II diabetes is being seen more and more, where children are being medicated for ADHD or being punished for fidgeting too much or being too impulsive or energetic in the class room, those children need a break.

Everyone agrees that we don’t need more mandates. That something as simple as recess should just happen. But it doesn’t happen. We need this Task Force to truly see how much of a problem the situation of recess is. The Task Force would consist of volunteers so the financial impact on the State and on the People would be minimal if at all. But the results of what they find could prove to be priceless.

It has just come to my attention that the New Jersey Senate has scheduled a session for Tuesday, January 13, 2009. At this time the agenda has not been posted. Marie and I are hoping to see bill S226 added to the schedule. We need your help to make that happen! We are asking people who agree with us, that our children need a break, to send an email to Senate President Richard Codey and ask that he post bill S226 to the agenda and bring it to the Senate floor for a vote. It will just take you a minute to be heard!

Go to Senator Richard Codey’s website
Click “Contact Your Legislator(s)”
Check “Senator Richard J. Codey”
Click “Select your Representative(s)”
Fill in your name and address and type in your message, ask that bill S226 be added to the agenda for Tuesday, January 13, 2006

Thank you for helping make a difference for our children! With all the homework they get, they need a break in the day!

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