Mandatory Recess for Grades 1-6 in Arizona Schools?


by David Safier

One of our readers, Steve Gall, a retired teacher, was up in Phoenix arguing in front of the Senate K-12 Committee that recess should be required in all elementary schools. (Steve is quoted in the article.)

Steve posted a comment about his experience at the end of my latest diatribe about after school sports:

I was up in Phoenix yesterday morning testifying before the Senate Education Committee to mandate a 30 minute recess period in the elementary schools. It was a humbling experience. The Committee voted 5-2 in favor of the bill! At least, it’s a start to implementing physical education. Now, the bill will go to the full senate. We need to lobby our senators to pass this important bill. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks. Steve

So, are there any suggestions? If you read the article, you’ll see some people object to the bill because it is another unfunded mandate for the schools. They say a half hour will have to be added to the school day, which will cost money the schools don’t have.

My opinion is, we need recess and physical education in our schools. It’s both anti-child and counterproductive to chain elementary students to their desks all day without giving them a chance to run around, shout and laugh out loud. I was a well-behaved, academically inclined child, but I remember looking forward to recess, and I think I came back to the classroom better able to think and learn because I had time to move my body and clear my head. That goes double for more active children.

I also believe that a half hour out of class is not a half hour lost to academic education. Education isn’t merely a function of time. If you can get students to give their whole attentions to what’s going on in class for a half hour, that’s worth far more than an hour where the students are daydreaming.

Where do you think about this issue? Should schools be forced to provide a half hour of recess? If so, is there a way to convince our Senators to vote for the bill?


  1. The article “forgot” to mention the organizations and associations that backed this bill: The American Heart Association, The American Cancer Society, etc
    Rep. Mark Anderson R-Mesa provided his own survey among teachers and parents: 99% “for”, that pretty much matches Steve’s findings. Does anybody belive that teaching to the test during recess has educational value? I doubt it. There are numerous studies showing just the oposite.
    Sen. Debbie McCune-Davis D-Pheonix voted against HR2037 -even she recognizes its merits- beeing afraid the school districts she represents will have to add 30 min to the school day (=$$$). Why? I bet they used to have recess before the NCLB mess.

    The HR2037 bill will hit the Senate floor very soon. Please call/email your senator asking to support it. This is a nonpartisan issue.
    Thank you

  2. thanks, David! I’m also a member of Drinking Liberally, as is my wife, Mariana Spier. The recess mandate was her idea! The opposition argument was ridiculous because in most cases the schools already have recess time, BUT they are cutting it out due to the tests for NCLB. Best wishes. Steve