Rhode Island Stops Tormenting Parents & Kids, Proposes Wonderful Bill — TODAY!

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Rhode Island, you may recall, has proposed some of the most anti-Free-Range laws in America:

*The law proposed by four legislators in 2014 that would have made it illegal to let any child under 7th grade get off the school bus without an adult waiting there to escort him or her home.That bill died, perhaps after some agitation from this blog.

*The law proposed in January that would fine parents $1000 and have them lose their drivers’ licenses for three years if they let their kids under age 7 wait in the car, even during an errand. As if a kid is much safer once his mom loses her ability to get to work for three years. This bill quietly slipped away.

*The law proposed just about a month ago: “Children under ten (10) years of age shall not be left home alone.” Great. Suddenly latchkey kids are illegal, for no reason. That bill seems to have curled up and died after some Rhode Island residents read about it (here, I believe) and spoke out at the State Senate. Even a kid testified. Woo hoo!

*The law that suddenly forced sex offenders to move out of their homes if they lived within 1,000 feet of a school. While maybe that SOUNDED protective,  the evidence shows residency restrictions have no effect — zero! none! — on child safety. In fact, they can actually backfire: Guys who’d been living peacefully in the same place for years are suddenly uprooted. Inevitably, some become homeless, destabilizing the people who need stability most. Right now there’s a temporary stay on enforcing this measure, thank God.

BUT HERE IS THE AMAZINGLY GREAT NEWS!!!

Bill H7644 being proposed TODAY at 4:30 in the House Health, Education and Welfare Committee (that’s in room 101, Rhode Islanders) would require public schools to provide at least 20 minutes a day of free unstructured play recess in grades K-5. What’s even better: This RIGHT could not be taken from kids “for academic or punitive reasons.”

How wonderful! How humane! How actually evidence-based: Kids who have some free play time do BETTER at school! A recent Stanford study found that, “recess is a profoundly important part of the school day.”

So let’s let bygones be bygones, Rhode Island. Get rid of that new sex offender restriction, give kids the right to recess, and we will hail you for your enlightenment, instead of ragging on you.

Deal?  – L

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When I grow up, I wanna be a Rhode Island State legislator, so I can give kids even MORE freedom!

When I grow up, I wanna be a Rhode Island State legislator, so I can give kids more of this! 

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31 Responses to Rhode Island Stops Tormenting Parents & Kids, Proposes Wonderful Bill — TODAY!

  1. SKL March 9, 2016 at 11:26 am #

    Yay – if I read this right, kids can’t lose recess for acts / omissions the teacher doesn’t like? I hope this catches on. This has happened to my kid, and I complained (even to the school psych) and they were like, nope. Recess is the only thing kids care enough about. We need to be able to take it away. :/

  2. John March 9, 2016 at 12:03 pm #

    Since I don’t have any kids myself, I am not sure of the current recess schedule for kids in schools today. But I have heard, and maybe heard wrong, that kids do not spend the time in recess like we used to as kids back in the 1960s. I have also heard that physical education in schools today is not as plentiful as it was for us kids back in the late 60s and early 70s. With that being the case, this is certainly good news. Kids nowadays are in dire need of more exercise and more recess will provide just that. But actually back when I was a kid in grade school, they could restrict our recess if we didn’t get all of our work done in the classroom.

  3. Caiti March 9, 2016 at 12:04 pm #

    Woohoo!

  4. MichaelF March 9, 2016 at 12:12 pm #

    My kids get PhysED twice a week, for maybe an hour…I don’t think they always go out at recess but its good to have that option. Though I have heard from my kids that usually they are too busy chatting to finish eating in the roughly half hour they get to sit down for lunch.

    Anything that adds more physical time to a day, I am all for.

  5. Jessica March 9, 2016 at 12:37 pm #

    Happy days. If it passes, here’s to hoping other states follow suit and quickly too.

  6. mer March 9, 2016 at 12:39 pm #

    20 minutes? That’s it? That’s barely enough time to grab some sticks and start play sword fight with them.

  7. lollipoplover March 9, 2016 at 12:41 pm #

    What is going on in RI?!

    I guess I’m more bothered that there needs to be a law requiring recess, which is such a basic *period* of the day, a break to play! It’s like employment laws finally catching up and realizing that someone working 7 hours straight is entitled to a lunch break…this should not have had to get to this point! Any teacher will tell you the importance of recess, especially for young kids.

    My daughter is in 4th grade and gets 1 period of recess per day-30 minutes. She is not hurting for physical activity as she bikes to school and plays a lot of sports (and plays actively after school on most nice days). They also get 1 period per week of gym-30 minutes, not enough in my opinion but more and more is focused on academic periods and less art, music, and phys ed, things my children actually enjoy immensely.

  8. SKL March 9, 2016 at 12:50 pm #

    I agree that 20 minutes isn’t enough, but it’s a mandatory floor, which we don’t currently have.

    My kids’ school up through 3rd grade has been great about recess, free time, and structured movement. In 4th grade, there is less recess, but they still get it every day as well as gym 2x per week. They also move around a lot between special classes, library, etc. I am impressed at how much the school manages to do these things and still teach the 3Rs (though, their science and social studies programs aren’t the best).

  9. Vaughan Evans March 9, 2016 at 1:00 pm #

    Perhaps the biggest favour(that we adults)could do to ourselves(and to our children) IS;
    -to teach children how to compose WRITTEN reports-(Police recruits are trained-how to write reports-and to interpret reports.)
    Adults are losing their fluency in English(One important reason for this is television-because the communication is all one-way, it distorts the way people think.
    However, television can be very good or very bad-depending on how it is used.
    Many people in Canada and the United States do NOT speak English as their first language.
    (In Canada, many native speakers of English have problems with our language-its inconsistencies in grammar, pronunciation, usage, spelling.(One thing that makes things even more complicated for Canadians, is that our WORKING usage of English-is a cross between our British heritage, and American usage.
    In Canada, the influence of American television, magazines, and movies have(in some ways) a bad CONDITIONING influence on Canadians.
    It is my experience that a child who has been taught to respect others will NOT hesitate to “go to bat” for an adult(or an older child).
    Around 1970, I was in a bus. Two seats away from me-were 4 children. Three of them made fun of me.
    The fourth(a little girl)of about 7 TRIED and TRIED to coax the other three children to stop teasing me.
    This little girl displayed moral courage-the courage-that comes with people who risk the temporarily unpopularity that comes with people who do NOT compromise their standards. She knew FULLY well, that I wasn’t doing anything improper to the other three children.
    If people would only learn to appreciate the role -of female personb-in being protectors-as well as being nurturers and homemakers- we might not have improper behavior my male persons towards female persons(or towards other males for that matter.)

  10. Miriam March 9, 2016 at 1:09 pm #

    It’s not a bad law – but the fact that we need it and how little time – that is sad… for our whole society.

    Kids should play 24-7. It’s the one (and only) thing they need (and want) to do. They will be happier, smarter, kinder, more resilient, stronger (physically and emotionally), have more experience with solving problems and conflicts. Poor kids are being forced into boxes of what the need to do (now eat now get dressed now homework now swimming class now sleep now ride the bus), and get only 20 minutes of free play a day. Sad.

  11. Vaughan Evans March 9, 2016 at 1:20 pm #

    The best favour that adults could do to children is to give them a FOUNDATION-in which to improvise unstructured play.
    As an example, in rope skipping, tell them not to swing them in the air(a child might as a result incur an eye injury). In Red Rover, strike a compromise, between making it safe(where any injuries would be no worse than a bruise)
    Girls and women have been treated very condescendingly. Hopscotch used to be a boys’ activity(the Roman soldiers that were stationed in Britain would play hopscotch to keep feet.(Rope skipping used to be a strictly boys” activity(people thought little girls would injure themselves.
    Disabled persons used to be treated condescendingly.
    The very essence of “empathy” is to be considerate of “:challenged” people and at the same time avoid condescending.

  12. Vaughan Evans March 9, 2016 at 1:32 pm #

    The ideal purpose of a community centre, play leader, or physical education teacher, is to give a child-a foundation of knowledge-to prepare them, for unstructured play.
    On August 24, 1979, I taught six boys)at a community picnic to play a search game called ‘Run, Sheep, Run!'(This game used to be a favourite-before about 1950). It was often played in the summer time-between dinner time-and when the street lights came on.)
    (1979 was International Year of The Child.)

    -(35 children wanted to play it-but I could only handle 6 people

    WELL (the other 29 watched me play with the sic boys(for one hour.)
    -They knew(by watching )how the game worked(The very essence was improvising, imparting, and exclaiming codes-to guide the hiding team out of sight of the seekers-and towards the goal.)
    Two weeks later, a young boy told me that SIXTY additional children had tried the game.
    Soon the WHOLE of the school was playing it.
    The teachers would take the children outdoors to play it-in lieu of indoor PE;
    This story happened in Vancouver’s West End(a single square mile of 40,0000 people.
    I had lived there from April 2, 1979-and August 2, 1980.
    I never DID observe the children play it on their own..
    ON A HAPPIER NOTE”
    The Recreation Worker(a Mr. Palmer)that I had worked with-did an amazing thing.
    In 1991, he asked me to teach that game-to himself-his wife, and three daughters
    (we played it in a Regional Park-one mile west-from where I had taught it.)

    (OTE ALSO: For more information
    9a)Do a Google search(Type in Run, Sheep, Run! in this search
    ALSO:E-mail me at skippingdancers@outlook,com-for more information about the game-and how it could be (a)a great family game (b)a game suitable for children with Special needs.

  13. Michael Blackwood March 9, 2016 at 1:46 pm #

    Next we need to push for no more than 20 minutes seat time and 50% outdoors time allowed regardless of weather. Also, go to a curriculum that is project based not subject based.

  14. lele March 9, 2016 at 2:07 pm #

    Nice! And i thought my family was lucky this week because its a no homework week! (whew & thankful) Oregon should get going on this recess bill. Maybe a art requirement bill would be good too…that’s probably asking for a bit much…

  15. EricS March 9, 2016 at 2:23 pm #

    So basically, they are going back to how things once was before all of this helicoptering hysteria started. At least taking steps in that direction. Hopefully it passes. Rhode Islanders, give your support! 🙂

  16. SanityAnyone? March 9, 2016 at 2:33 pm #

    Literally a breath of fresh air.

  17. Dean Whinery March 9, 2016 at 2:34 pm #

    Maybe some of these things could be used as models for legislative and professional educator lunacy in other states.

  18. Liz March 9, 2016 at 3:07 pm #

    20 minutes? It’s a good idea but elementary kids need at least a total of 60 minutes a day, try 2 30 minute sessions and I would get behind this.

  19. Havva March 9, 2016 at 3:30 pm #

    My state already has a law like this. There are exceptions for various weather conditions.
    When I was at a meeting about signing kids up for special programs at the local magnet school, one of the moms asked about recess. The principal said the kids get the 20 minutes, as required by law. The mom who asked and I exchanged an appalled look and the principal insisted that before the law many schools in our district were only allowing 10 minutes per day for recess “and it wasn’t us!” It was a huge topic of conversation among the moms after the meeting, with no one that I spoke to thinking 20 per day was sufficient. One mom with a kid already in the school, said it was a real problem how often kids are kept inside due to weather. I’m sure it would take a lot of effort to get to a satisfactory amount of recess time, but it seems to me at least feasible to get them outside in a greater variety of weather conditions (perhaps a coat drive, as we are a Title I school)?
    Does anyone here have experience helping their school get the kids outside more? Would outfitting the classrooms with a supply of coats be sufficient? Are their other issues to expect and navigate?

  20. K Virtue March 9, 2016 at 3:33 pm #

    Was so glad to get info on this from RR this morning RI has a very weird culture in some instances. ‘Natives’ often think a trip from Newport to Providence (all of 40 miles) is a ‘BIG TRIP’ and many don’t like driving on highways (well, I guess driving back roads would make a 40 mile trip kinda long) Sadly, the weirdness often turns to silly pieces of micromanaging legislation. Glad we are getting some common sense back in the FRK discussions… This story about falling leaves was getting much derision last week. http://bigstory.ap.org/article/3881bdcfecc142f094af4f91d1546eb9/prune-or-pay-bill-targets-negligent-neighbors-trees

  21. Cynthia812 March 9, 2016 at 3:34 pm #

    I saw this story the other day: http://www.offgridquest.com/education/texas-school-triples-recess-time-and-see Hopefully the pendulum is swinging back. My kids’ school (K-2) had 15 minutes of recess a day. And if the weather wasn’t perfect, they didn’t go out. It was insane, and part of why we homeschool now.

  22. Curiuos March 9, 2016 at 3:36 pm #

    Do you know this song?

    Accentuate the Positive!

    Eliminate the Negative!

    Latch on to the Affirmative!!

    And don’t mess with Mr. In-Between!

    Good for Rhode Island! I have contributed to the lawsuit against them in the misguided and brutally harmful residency restriction legislation case, and hope they come to their senses and remand most of their draconian registration laws. And that other states follow suit.

    Did you know?
    The SupremeCourt is considering a case from Kansas at this time which would send a registrant to jail for ten years for failing to register in a situation in which the law did not actually require registration. These laws have one purpose that is important to the US Department of Justice that administers them but is not apparent to the public: returning to prison, for minor offenses, those who have already served their prison terms. Keeping the jails full, and paying huge fees to PACs and contractors that operate our prison systems. Providing jobs for police and probation officers. And getting politicians re-elected–since no one would vote against a State or Congressional Legislator whose proposals had the purpose of keeping kids safe.

    And “safe” in Rhode Island has come to mean “indoors”, “locked in”, “under adult supervision until the age of majority” and so on. Just so the Politicians can say how much they love the children.
    For Rhode Island to loosen it’s strangle hold on it’s kids is fantastic!
    Thanks, Rhode Island!

  23. K Virtue March 9, 2016 at 3:39 pm #

    (side note) In response to the ideas of recess and being outside…A teacher friend told me the weather restriction (inside if under 32 degrees) has more to do with the poverty level than anything else. SOOOO many kids were not prepared for cold weather that the schools in good conscience couldn’t send them outside to play. My community has very high poverty level, and it is horrifying to see how many kids are poorly dressed for New England weather.

  24. Havva March 9, 2016 at 3:45 pm #

    @Cynthia812,
    I followed the link through from your link to the story in Today. Interesting survey embedded in there. The most common response for amount of recess with 43% of respondents, said their kid(s) were getting 16-30 minutes of recess a day. A whopping 98% of respondents thought kids were not getting enough recess.

  25. Cassie March 9, 2016 at 4:22 pm #

    @mer

    Agreed. I mean this sounds great and all… but I am in disbelief that it is needed?

    In Australia kids get at least an hour each day (a 20min recess and a 1hr lunch break – both used for playing, and I know teachers that give them lunches in the last 5 min before class time ends = more play time). I couldn’t fathom anything less.

  26. Papilio March 9, 2016 at 5:09 pm #

    @Cassie: That sounds practically the same as what I remember from elementary school (most of us went home for lunch, so it was more walking/cycling than playing in the lunch break, but still, you got to move).

  27. Mandy March 9, 2016 at 8:54 pm #

    Here in my province (Manitoba, Canada), the kids get 15 minutes in the morning, 30 minutes at lunch and another 15 minutes in the afternoon. I can’t imagine less than that. I hope more laws come to pass that protect children’s right to play.

  28. Becky March 9, 2016 at 10:08 pm #

    That’s awesome! I hope they have a better governor than NJ’s Christie, who vetoed the same exact bill after it passed unanimously in the house and senate. Good luck, RI kids!!

  29. James Pollock March 10, 2016 at 12:21 am #

    And now, a responsible opposing viewpoint.

    Why not have them doing school stuff while they are at school, and then give them all their free, unstructured play time together, to do with as they see fit? Instead of, you know, telling them “OK, for the next 20 minutes you’re going to have unstructured play time”, which sounds a LOT like it’s scheduled and structured?

    It’s not like they’re making 20 minutes per (school) day magically appear. Those 20 minutes during the school day come at the expense of 20 minutes that would have been after school, but now the school day runs 20 minutes later.

  30. andy March 10, 2016 at 4:51 am #

    @James Pollock Because kids cant sit straight and focus four hour in row. If they dont have recess, class time is spend on poor replacements of recess anyway. They need break.

  31. lollipoplover March 10, 2016 at 9:15 am #

    “Does anyone here have experience helping their school get the kids outside more? Would outfitting the classrooms with a supply of coats be sufficient? Are their other issues to expect and navigate?”

    Put the lost and found next to the recess yard. That way, kids who don’t have or forgot outerwear can borrow the many lost pairs of gloves and hoodies to stay warm. Trust me, there’s plenty to borrow and keep. Most of this stuff gets donated by the end of the year so why not have it get some good use and solve a minor problem.

    I think in any weather it’s great to give the kids who want some outside time a chance to run around but I like that our school offers other options-like indoor recess to the kids that want stay inside or don’t like the cold and would rather play a board game or shoot basketball in the indoor gym. Options. Not every kid wants to run around the recess yard. Some need a break but more a mental break or just like quieter pursuits, like Ferdinand the bull.

    My youngest stays inside for recess once or twice a week (but the weather has been really gross). She likes helping her teacher decorate her room. How nice that she gets a chance to do this and isn’t forced outside but gets a choice in what to do for her break time. Her teacher is a Miss Honey-type person and I can totally see how she wants to help out (I think she wants to be a teacher now).