The Texas Recess Bill aims to increase recess minutes for grades pre-kindergarten through 3rd grade in Texas public schools. You can support this effort by sending a letter of support today!
The Texas Recess Bill (House Bill 340) is a piece of legislation that would modify the current physical education requirements for students in full-day pre-kindergarten through third grade* to include a required 30 minute, unstructured recess in addition to a TEKS based Physical Education class. This bill is in the process of being written by the legislative team of Texas State Representative Philip Cortez.
Why do Texas children need the Recess Bill?
Current state law requires that students participate in physical activity for a minimum of 30 minutes a day OR 135 minutes per week. The issue with this is that school districts can solely use P.E. classes to meet the required minutes, completely excluding any form of unstructured recess time. The law does not require a recess time for each student, just 135 minutes weekly of being physically active.
Another issue with the current law is that only 50% of a student’s P.E. time should be spent actually being physically active. This means that if students are receiving 135 minutes weekly of Physical Education classes only, they could be only receiving a little over 60 minutes of actual physically active time in a week.
What’s also alarming is that if school districts are using the minimum standard of 135 minutes weekly, there will be two days out of a child’s school week where they have ZERO minutes of physically active time. This means that a 5-year-old child could be expected to focus on instruction for the entire 7 hours of the school day with no time to run, play and well…be a child.
Recess guidelines vary across districts with some school districts having up to 60 minutes of recess time a day and some having none. Another sad aspect of this is that children from low-income areas, who in many cases are already considered to be at-risk, are much more likely to have less recess minutes than their wealthier counterparts. Supporters of the Texas Recess Bill feel that all children need recess, no matter where they live or how they scored on their latest STAAR test.
There are several sources of research that point to the fact that children perform better academically when they have recess. In fact, increased recess time contributes to not only an increase in academic performance but also a decrease in behavioral issues. Increased recess is particularly beneficial for students with Attention Deficit Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder.
All Texas children deserve an adequate recess time, no matter what district they live in. Show your support for the Texas Recess Bill today by emailing a letter of support to Clarissa Rodriguez, Chief of Staff for Representative Cortez. You may download a sample letter of support here.
Why only pre-kindergarten through third grade?
We have had several people ask why the bill would be limited to pre-kindergarten through 3rd grade. The original bill was for Pre-K through 5th grade. After speaking with stakeholders including parents, administrators, and lawmakers, we agreed that the bill would have a much easier path if it was limited to Pre-K through 3rd.
As you can imagine, passing a bill is extremely complicated and difficult. We are hoping to “win small” by limiting the bill to the early childhood grades. If you feel that this bill should be expanded to the upper grades, please include that in a letter of support. We need to hear your input, so please email Clarissa Rodriguez today!