Recess Bill Back Again After Kemp Veto Last Year

State representative Demetrius Douglas is one persistent legislator.

The lawmaker from Stockbridge has once again filed his recess legislation. The measure, HB 83, passed through both chambers in 2019 after three years of trying but was vetoed by Governor Kemp.

House Bill 843 is co-sponsored by Minority Leader Bob Trammell, Reps. Spencer Frye, Mike Wilensky, Angelika Kauche, and Republican Lee Hawkins.

Specifically, the bill would recess every day for every child in Kindergarten through fifth grade that is enrolled in a public school in Georgia, unless:

  • the child has physical education physical education or structured activity time on any given day; or 
  • if reasonable circumstances prevent recess, such as inclement weather when no indoor space is available, assemblies or field trips exceeding their scheduled duration, “conflicts occurring at the scheduled recess time over which the classroom teacher has no control, or emergencies, disasters, or acts of God.”

The bill seeks to ‘encourage’ 30 minutes of recess time, but still maintains the requirement of some recess daily. The bill says ‘supervised unstructured activity time, preferably outdoors.’ 

HB 843 leaves written rules and parameters up to the local school boards to determine. 

When Kemp vetoed the measure, he made the following statement:

Currently, local boards of education hold broad authority to establish recess policies for students in kindergarten through eighth grade. This local control allows school boards to set these policies based on a thorough understanding of day-today educational operations as well as regular interaction with administrators, educators, families, and students. House Bill 83 would dramatically restrict this local control, stripping long-held authority from school boards. While I support expanded recess opportunities for Georgia’s students, I am a firm believer in local control, especially in education. This legislation would impose unreasonable burdens on educational leaders without meaningful justification. For the foregoing reasons, I VETO HOUSE BILL 83.

The bill has been assigned to the House Education committee.  

You can read the bill here.

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bethebalance
bethebalance

Sorry, local control should lose on this one. Recess is a public health issue, intertwined with prominent issues including obesity, mental health, and social and emotional learning. The state is better equipped to analyze that policy, and has every prerogative to regulate public health. I.e., Do we know how many state Medicaid dollars might this save? Also, if the gov supports recess opportunities, but believes in local control, are there any alternative efforts are being made, or that could be made, by the Dept.. of Ed. in terms of supporting local Boards to pass better recess policies? Asking for my… Read more »

Dave Bearse
Dave Bearse

But it cost more, and being a statute the state would be responsible for fund as part of basic education.

bethebalance
bethebalance

It’s hard to imagine a cheaper mandate. But say your playground slide has jagged metal sticking out of it- there could be specialized grants. There are some good private foundation grants for such things as well. I don’t even think it’s about taking time away from curriculum, although maybe there is small amount of that. I wonder if it’s more about liability concerns, given the recent trend I’ve noticed about getting insurance for your kids for school-based accidents. That one surprised me a bit, but what if we just mandated everyone buy that for their kids? Can we have recess… Read more »

Dave Bearse
Dave Bearse

My comment was meant to be snarky. I very much support recess, but a touch of ambivalence with respect to it as a state statutory requirement. On the other hand, if there is a significant fraction of ES where it isn’t a regular part of the day, a statute is probably necessary.

Benevolus
Benevolus

I think this should pass too.
If local schools had no conflicting commitments that they are being measured by, then sure, let them have control. But they DO have commitments imposed upon them that would compel them to abandon activities like this that don’t directly enhance those goals.

bethebalance
bethebalance

Not exactly clear to me why it’s considered a zero-sum equation in any event. To my knowledge, it’s common knowledge that exercise improves mental performance and productivity. You want better test scores? You want to get through the curriculum quicker? Get some blood to the brains.

Benevolus
Benevolus

Yes, but they have very specific things; words, ideas, tasks- that they have to cover very specifically, even to the amount of time spent and when. Time taken from those things is a zero sum, even though I agree that the overall result would be better test scores, etc.

Benevolus
Benevolus