Thursday, September 27, 2007

Recess & CPS: Will the Cartoon Network Rescue Recess?

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.


Michael J Moore said...

I hope it is not innapropriate to post here - I worked for years on a childhood obesity game and it is finally out nationwide. Look at for more info.
Thanks - Michael Moore (not that Michael Moore)

Anonymous said...

Dear Kathy:
At my Chicago Public School we have recess. Yes, we do, every day except when weather does not permit. We also have a better lunch program. Why? Our principal--she met with us to see if we the teachers, wanted to have recess back, made a workable schedule, so that we are not all out at the same time AND worked with lunchroom staff and lunch provider to assure better choices for our students to eat. Do you have an LSC at your school--What does your LSC do? What do they say?
However, we want also to have more gym, but that really is a money issue--I wish the CTU could have won more gym time like they won more counseling time. I think you have to choose between gym and library--and it is sad that we would have to give up one for the other. Recess is the way to go since CPS allows gym only 1 day per week.

Kathy said...

anonymous -

My daughter's school has physical education twice a week and library once week. Her phys ed teacher conducts class outside when the weather is pleasant. So far this year, they've only had gym indoors 2 times.

I do wonder about the CTU and what role, if any, it would play in bringing back recess.