|"I got your recess right here," says Florida legislator.|
There are many good teachers in Florida, and many good schools as well, but it's no thanks to state leadership, which since the days of Governor Jeb "Is It My Turn Yet" Bush, the very model of the well-connected education amateur, has tried its best to make public education such a lousy option that the charter industry will start to look good.
So what now?
You'd think this would be a no-brainer. Moms were agitating for free-play recess-- a full 100 minutes per week-- and legislators jumped on that puppy. That kind of recess time would be a step up for some schools, like the kindergarten class that took recess only one day a week. Or Pinellas County, where it's reportedly no surprise if students get only two days of recess a week. The research supports it, as does the heart of any feeling human being who spends any time at all around children. So a bill was crafted and has been sailing through the legislature with busloads of sponsors.
But a Florida House of Representatives subcommittee yesterday decided that twenty minutes a day is just too generous (the Senate apparently left the original bill alone, so kudos to them, because we've arrived at the point where agreeing that children should have research is a laudable political position and not simple human sense).
Which subcommittee? Why, the Pre-K-12 Innovation Subcommittee, of course. Because what's more innovative than opposing recess.
The amended version of the bill cuts the requirement for recess back to only those days without phys ed, and limits it to grades K-3 only, because once you get to be nine years old, it's time to get down to business, you little slackers! It's also bad news for phys ed teachers, because it allows schools to count recess as part of their phys ed time-- in other words, Florida thinks you phys ed teachers are just glorified recess monitors.
What's the reasoning behind this amending? Here's Orlando Republican Rep. Rene Plasencia:
“We’re making sure we have a bill that we know will travel successfully through the House,” he told reporters. “There are certain points during this process where in order to get bills heard and moving through committee, we need to make sure that the bill is put into a position where it can get from committee to committee.”
They're afraid of bucking the powerful anti-recess lobby? They're concerned that the Grinch Caucus will filibuster the bill? They are worried about opposition when 56 out of the 120 House members are co-sponsors of the bill??!!
Plasencia would not say who asked for the changes, and the changes were adopted without any discussion or debate. And it was done on the last day of the session so that there was no time left for negotiation-- the moms pushing the bill, along with Plasnecia himself (he's been a staunch ally of the movement) could accept next to nothing, or nothing.
So hooray for the bold, brave House members of Florida, willing to stand up against the scourge of small children taking a few minutes away from their desks to just run and play. Good thing you boys got on top of that-- who knows what would have happened if you had let it get out of hand.
Florida government-- what the hell is wrong with you?