Tuesday, March 19, 2013

My letter--any recommendations?

My name is Kami Latorre and I have two children in KISD and three more to follow. I am concerned about the enormous amount of time the K-5 children spend in classroom with only one recess.  I was dismayed when I received a minute to minute schedule of my child’s 7 + hour long Kindergarten day and found she had one 15 minute recess. 

As a nurse, I know that scientific research clearly shows that increased movement increases the blood flow to the brain, which in turn releases nerve growth factor which helps the brain grow, develop, and concentrate better.  It also releases hormones that counter anxiety, mellow moods, and increase happiness and self-esteem.  Even the CDC recommends at least 20 minutes of recess per school day.  Physical education classes are not held every day, so that does not make up the difference.

While I understand that KISD desires to educate children to a high academic standard and I support that, I do not believe that standard will be sacrificed by allowing the children a longer, or preferably, more recesses.  In fact, several academic studies, e.g. The Long-Run Impacts of Early Childhood Education, DeCicca & Smith, 2011,  I have researched have shown that many children, especially boys, are often not developmentally ready for long classroom days in Kindergarten, and their initial negative experiences leads to poorer academic performance throughout their primary and secondary education.  

Also, many countries that perform better than the US in international testing, have longer recesses and/or shorter school instructional time.  For instance, in Canada--which ranks higher and has a similar diverse population, school system, economy and culture--the province of Alberta requires 200 elementary school days a year and 950 hours of instructional time.  KISD has only 178 school days and Texas requires 1260 instructional hours. Hence, Alberta students are able to enjoy a relaxed schedule of starting later, releasing earlier, having two recesses and an hour long lunch break, while maintaining a high academic performance and healthy balance of work and play. 

I would urge you to increase the length and number of recesses in KISD for the K-5 grades.  If hours in the classroom cannot be sacrificed, then I would support lengthening the school year while adding more recesses and/or shortening the school day. I would also request that recess never be taken away as a form of punishment.  

My children deserve a robust education with opportunities for creative and engaging learning, as well as opportunities to release energy, move, be happy, and cope with stress naturally.  


Kami Latorre


Kelly said...

I think it's great. The only change I would recommend would be putting the study citation later in the sentence so it doesn't interrupt the phrasing. I got a little lost the first time I read it. So perhaps it should read, "In fact, several academic studies I have researched, e.g. The Long-Run Impacts of Early Childhood Education, DeCicca & Smith, 2011, have show..."

Otherwise, excellent. I told my husband about it and he got very upset about these poor school kids. It seems like if this was a Walmart job, it wouldn't even be legal. ; -) Aren't you supposed to get a 30 minute break after 4 or 4.5 hours of work? Shouldn't kids get the same or better?

Andrea said...

Ooh--Kelly, love the Walmart example. You should work that in. Kami, you had some comma problems. Email it to me and I will edit the minor grammar things. Otherwise--awesome.