By Ken Reed
A suburban Denver school district has decided that the best way to increase the academic performance of its students is to cut recess time.
The research says the school district couldn’t be more wrong.
According to an article by Ann Schimke posted on chalkbeat.org, elementary children in Adams 14 school district get about 15 minutes of recess time a day, but as little as seven minutes on some days, according to teachers.
Cutting recess time — along with the equally troubling national trend of cutting the number of physical education classes students are required to take — is a completely misguided and inappropriate strategy for increasing academic performance. In fact, based on a growing mound of research, it’s the exact opposite of what needs to be done to not only boost academic performance, but also decrease health and behavioral problems.
“I honestly think it’s going to bring (test) scores down,” says Hanson Elementary teacher Jodi Connelly. “To tell them you’re going to have to sit in a chair all day long … and have things put in your head …. That’s not how they’re wired.”
No, it’s not how kids are wired. And it’s not what their bodies or brains need.
Over 75 percent of American children are not even active for 20 minutes a day! The country is in the midst of a childhood obesity crisis. We need to get our children moving more to improve their short and long-term health.
But let’s put the positive health benefits of getting kids more active to the side for a minute. The fact is, cardiovascular exercise also positively impacts the brain and academic performance. Kids would be much better served going for a vigorous 20-minute walk before a test than studying for an extra 20 minutes.
“Exercise is like Miracle-Gro for the brain,” says Dr. John Ratey, author of SPARK: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain. “It grows brain cells.”
The “Father of Aerobics,” Dr. Kenneth Cooper, founder of the Cooper Aerobics Center in Dallas, Texas, concurs with Ratey.
“Students at schools with daily fitness-oriented physical education programs are reaping benefits of being physically fit: 1) improved health; 2) higher academic performance; and 3) fewer behavioral problems. There’s more good news. Exercise has also been shown to improve attention span and focus, lower anxiety and depression levels, and raise self-esteem.”
Educators and school board members in Colorado’s Adams 14 school district who pushed for, and implemented, this irresponsible plan are committing educational malpractice. They, and any other like-minded school districts, need to be stopped.
The clear solution to academic, behavioral and health challenges is more recess and P.E. time, not less.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #10 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: An Issues Discussion With Paul Dolan – Dolan is the Cleveland Indians Owner and CEO. He discusses the use of Native American names and logos by sports teams and the decisions to drop the Chief Wahoo logo and the upcoming change to the team name. Other baseball topics include health and safety, possible MLB rule changes and youth participation in the sport.
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Episode #9 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports Issues With Ralph Nader – Nader is a consumer advocate and was named one of the “100 Most Influential Americans of the 20th Century” by Time magazine. He is the founder of League of Fans.
Episode #8 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Save College Sports From Overcommercialization and Professionalization? – The guest is Dr. David Ridpath, a sports business professor and past president of the Drake Group
Episode #7 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Brain Trauma and CTE Risk in Sports With Dr. Ann McKee – Dr. McKee works in the field of neuropathology and has demonstrated that “mild” repetitive head trauma can provoke chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a devastating neurodegenerative disease.
Episode #6 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Need for Quality Physical Education in Our Schools is Greater Than Ever – The guest is Clayton Ellis, one of our nation’s leading advocates for getting our young people to be more physically active.
Episode #5 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Youth Sports with Positive Coaching Alliance Founder Jim Thompson – Thompson started Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) in 1998 to help create a movement to transform the culture of youth sports from “win-at-all-costs” to a positive, character-building experience.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
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