My two daughters attend different CPS elementary schools (K-8), one with recess, the other with a “closed campus” (meaning no recess and a 20-minute lunch period). I believe that closed campuses in Chicago started back in the late 1970s in an effort to keep schoolchildren safe from street crime and violence.
Back in the late 1970s, I was in elementary school myself, and that means a generation (or two) of Chicagoans has grown up without recess. My daughter has not had recess in more than five years.
But people are working on it. For example:
1. The Cartoon Network sponsors something called “Rescuing Recess”. This movement might be working for some people, but the Cartoon Network doesn’t inspire a lot confidence in me, what with its siren call to children to waste away in front of the boob tube in physical inactivity.
2. Parents United for Healthy Schools has organized more than 30 parent organizations to bring a “Recess” bill before the Illinois state legislature. The bill, which requires a 10-minute recess for all elementary schools in Chicago, passed the House in May of this year. As far as I can tell, it’s languishing in the Senate. And this doesn’t inspire confidence in me, either. Check the Illinois General Assembly Bill Status page for updates, though!
And while I may recognize the absurdity in situations #1 and #2 above, I do think recess will come back in this city. It’s time. And I would very much like to see—just once—a program that was cut from public education reinstated.