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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Recess bill won't get Senate hearing, Education Committee chairman says



Sorry, recess moms.

The push to mandate 20 minutes of daily recess in Florida's elementary schools, which passed three House committees without opposition, won't be heard by the Senate Education Committee this session.

"I am not going to put it on the agenda," committee chairman Sen. John Legg told the Gradebook. "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 viewed recess through the same lens.

"We should always let the people closest to the problem address it," he said, adding that Pinellas school district leaders already acted on their own to add recess to the elementary day next year.

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.

Parents from across the state have been lobbying Legg's office for weeks, trying to get him to hear the bill.

UPDATE: Angela Browning, an Orange County leader of the recess movement, said her group was "outraged, disgusted, heartbroken."

"Senator 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," Browning said via email. "This isn't Neverland. Here, in Florida, our children grow up, and quickly."

She noted that Legg's own bills had been heard, but not this one promoted by so many parents across Florida. 

"Countless parents across the State of Florida were silenced today," she said. "Fifty legislators have signed on in the House and seven in the Senate with dozens more committed to support. But Senator Legg knows better? He is the only legislator who opposes this bill, and yet he has the power to silence everyone. Dictatorship does not belong in the democratic process. The real losers today were our children. Again."

Members of the Recess for All Facebook group posted that they would continue to lobby Legg's office, regardless of his intention.


[Last modified: Friday, February 12, 2016 2:57pm]


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