Less recess time for D.C. schools has parents protesting

WASHINGTON (WJLA) -- At the Watkins Elementary School playground on Labor Day, Skyria Brown was watching his grandsons burn off energy. According to him, they need at least a half hour of recess every single day.

“If they don't get their proper recess, then they probably won't be able to perform good in class," he said, emphasizing that it would be hard for them to sit still if they don't get to use up their excess energy.

But this fall, many D.C. public elementary school students started with just 15 minutes of recess a day. A parental firestorm quickly upped that minimum to 20 minutes, but for many, it is still too short.

"I just don't think it's fair, and I just think we should get more time,” said 5th grader Danier Wilkins.

"They need time to play and associate with their friends, and 15-20 minutes is just not enough time," said his mother, Iola Wilkins.

But like many others nationwide, D.C. schools are under pressure to raise test scores to comply with “No Child Left Behind.” More time for intense academics means less time for things like art, music, and of course, recess.

However, many told ABC 7 that this is short-sighted.

"They'll be more distracted in class, less likely to learn, so I don't think that's a good reason to try to squeeze recess down," said a father of a student, Mark Nelson.

Mark Nelson’s son Nikhil says that short recess is okay if you have physical education (P.E.) every day. But if you don’t, he explains:

"I would probably ask for 30-35 minutes, because I think kids really need a break from school ... It's really stressful going through a day without much of a break."

School officials point out that 20 minutes is the minimum time for recess – and added that school principals can increase it if they wish.

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