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Broward Children Need Music, Art, and PE--and these parents are seeing they get it

Susan Notes:

Look at what one parent can do!

Facebook Group: Broward Children Need Music, Art, and PE.

Members (as of April 15, 2010): 2,535

Common Interest - Politics

This group is for parents, students, teachers, and other citizens who believe that education in music and art, access to media and libraries, and daily physical activity are as important as reading, writing and math. We may even lose our guidance counselors! There is too much focus on standardized testing and the FCAT to the exclusion of other important learning. At this point, it looks like the Florida legislature is only going to make the problems worse.

Here's the history

Parents, go forth and do likewise!

Jan. 4. 2010

We are battling our son's elementary school in Broward County. Teacher quote: "I could give you 30 minutes a day to play outside, but I care about you and want you all to pass the FCAT test." Our 10-year-old hasn't had recess in months. Oh, and he consistently scores very high on all testing but does not finish his work in school so he gets in trouble. How many boring drills can one kid do? Any advise you have to offer would be GREATLY appreciated.


Jan. 4, 2010

Dear ____,

Your son is the reason I set up this site. I am a longtime teacher and the mistreatment of children in the name of test prep makes me want to weep. Instead of weeping, I decided to set up the site, hoping to help parents see that this practice is wrong. Children have a right to a childhood (which includes recess).

I agree with you "How many boring drills can a kid do?" But you need to present the case for all children, not just your son. (The kids who don't score well on standardized tests also need a break.) So you need to get some other parents to join you--so the school can't say "nobody else has complained." Ha. that's a common tactic.

Then, you can tell them that in Finland, which scores at the top of international tests, they have recess EVERY HOUR. They also introduce formal learning much later than we do.

My own state of Vermont scores high on standardized tests and local schools feel very strongly about the importance of recess. It has to be REALLY cold before they cancel outdoor recess--and then they have it indoors. Here is a VT resource on the importance of recess: Vermont Healthy Schools Resource: Physical Activity

Here's the story of a NJ woman who fought to get recess legislated.

If you put "Marie Walton" recess in Google, you'll get lots more articles.

I hope this helps and I wish you well.

Susan O.

Hello Susan,

I wanted to give you an update on my fight in Florida. My son was moved to another teacher's class room and the difference is night and day. Thirty minutes of recess almost everyday and one hour of homework every night. His
whole attitude is better and our home life does not revolve around school.

But, it is more interesting than that. We did public records requests on the school for policies and documentation of how they meet the requirement for 150 of PE for each kid. The district kept insisting that since our child was happy in his new placement that we were, pretty much, crazy. They did an investigation and determined that ____ Elementary is a "model school" because they have a "plan" to give the kids 150 of PE each week. The same week that I received the letter, my son watched a thirty minute movie on populations in the animal kingdom during his PE time. Yeah, I am
not kidding.

They still ignored us. Then, there was an article in the paper saying the budget will result in cuts to music, art, media, and PE in the elementary schools in Broward County, where I live. That night, I started a Facebook
group called Broward Children Need Music, Art, and PE." In one week we had 1,000 members and we now have over 2,5000. Mmmmm. All of a sudden, district officials wanted to meet with us.

The school is going to send out a newsletter stating that they are committed to more activity and recess in order to combat obesity. I am addressing the PTA this evening because I believe that if the parents know, then they can hold the teachers accountable when they don't give the kids a break. Will it change behavior? Who knows? But, it is a start. Thank you for your help!

R. E.

2,535 members and growing. 2,535 parents speaking up for music and art, access to media and libraries, and daily physical activity.

2,535 and growing.

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!'
He chortled in his joy.--Lewis Carroll

— Susan Ohanian
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