South Carolina passed a comprehensive Health and Wellness Education law in 2005. As a district we’re just now coming to terms with the ramifications of the law. One provision requires a minimum number of minutes of instruction in PE per week. Given the shortage of PE instructors and the shortage of available minutes, many districts (ours included) are counting time spent at recess to meet the minimum number of minutes.
Here’s the rub. Let’s say you have a kid that’s misbehaving, or has not completed their work. Since recess is now considered PE instructional time, the time-honored practice of detention is no longer allowed. As a former classroom teacher, I used recess detention regularly. This will really put a bind on classroom teachers.
The problem is that parents are very much aware of the law, and are bringing it to the teachers’ attention if their darlings miss recess. I recognize the importance of providing time for kids to use excess energy. I also realize that many older forms of discipline (corporal punishment, etc.) really did need to be eliminated. However, it seems to me that parents are more concerned about denial of students’ rights than with the child’s responsibility for proper behavior. At the same time, the options available to teachers for classroom discipline are decreasing. Now, if a student is disruptive on the playground, about the only recourse is referal to the office, thereby placing more discipline burden on the principal and administrative staff.
Sometimes I think it would be good to get back into the classroom. However, given all of the changes since I last taught, coupled with all of the No Child Left Behind foolishness, I’m not so sure I would beable to handle it.