Despite heavy lobbying from parents around the state, a push to mandate 20 minutes of daily recess in Florida’s elementary schools has died in the Legislature.
Although it passed three House committees without opposition, the measure won’t be heard by the Senate Education Committee this session.
“I am not going to put it on the agenda,” committee chairman John Legg, a Pasco County Republican, told the Herald/Times on Thursday. “It doesn’t merit a Tallahassee solution.”
Legg noted that he has, during his tenure, opposed uniform charter school contracts, physical education mandates, state-set school start dates and other initiatives that he considered local decisions. He said he viewed recess through the same lens.
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“We should always let the people closest to the problem address it,” he said.
Legg’s decision prompted an angry response from parents who for weeks have been trying to convince him to hear the bill.
“We are outraged, disgusted, heartbroken,” said Angela Browning, an Orange County mom who has led the push for mandatory recess. “Today, Sen. Legg told us exactly what our districts have been telling us for a decade: maybe next year. The only problem is, next year is too late. This isn’t Neverland. Here, in Florida, our children grow up, and quickly.”
Browning noted that dozens of other legislators have supported the bill, adding Legg “has the power to silence everyone. … The real losers today were our children. Again.”
Referring to other legislation, Legg went on to say he did not consider any remaining bills that had not been heard critical enough to warrant his committee’s attention. He has no plans to hold a meeting next week and said he left open the possibility of a Week 7 meeting only to deal with issues where the House and Senate are working out details, such as school choice.
If recess is in really high demand, he said, he’s unlikely to be back in 2017, and lawmakers can reconsider the idea then.