Recess too important to give up
Children deserve the right to play. I believe few people would disagree with this statement, yet in the push for a more rigorous academic atmosphere, many schools have eliminated recess from their daily schedule.
Most of us had recess when we were young. We probably remember good times and bad. That is part of growing up, but now those rites of passage we remember have been passed by and many children no longer have unstructured play during school. As I debate my neighborhood school on this issue, I have been given a laundry list of reasons as to why recess cannot be scheduled. Some of these reasons include, "We don't have enough time." "It is too hard to get the children settled down after recess." "Children get too many referrals and may get hurt playing and that takes away from academic time."
Here is my response: Children falling down or getting in trouble at recess is part of the landscape of teaching, just as it is part of the landscape of parenting. While there are some schools with extreme disciplinary situations, there are many programs schools can employ to help them organize recess and keep it fun for everyone. One such group is Peaceful Playgrounds, a consulting firm that helps keep recess fun and safe.
As a former teacher, I am well-aware of the pressures being put on teachers and students to perform, but recess and the right to play and leisure is spelled out by the United Nations and is well researched by the American Academy of Pediatrics and many other child advocates. This isn't optional. Recess and free play are just as important as math and reading or art and music. We have to stop allowing play to be viewed as something that can be trimmed from the lives our children. It is essential, a basic human right.
As adults, many of us work for companies that mandate that their employees take a one-hour lunch break, and yet we aren't providing the same for our children.
When are we going to put the brakes on and realize that our children are not robots and their lives are not experiments? These are people who are being pushed and driven to achieve at a pace and to standards far beyond their years and with little or no time to relax in a six-hour day. This is not what is best for our children, and we need to make it clear to our School Board and our schools that continuing to allow this overly zealous daily schedule is not in the best interest of our children. Our children need some peace in their day, some free time, some time to just be kids. That is their right.
Meg Rosker, Redington Shores
Where is the demand?
A recent editorial complimented Pinellas school superintendent Julie Janssen's new proposal for expanding the number of International Baccalaureate seats but failed to address whether there was a need for opening another IB program at Countryside. What do the data say? The data say that there is no need for additional IB seats in the north county.
For the last three consecutive years, all qualified students who wanted to attend Palm Harbor IB were accepted within the first few weeks of 10th grade. Moreover, since 2006 the number of freshman who remained on the wait list after first semester freshman year was between zero and 14. Currently there are only 40 students on the ninth-grade waiting list. Additionally, remember that with the new IB program proposed to open in Largo High School next year, the wait list should be even smaller or eliminated.
Janssen should keep Palm Harbor IB whole and not waste taxpayers' money. If she wants a magnet for Countryside, the Countryside stakeholders should be consulted, the data analyzed, needs evaluated, and options thoroughly investigated.
Kay Im, Tarpon Springs
Saturday Morning Market
Leave dogs at home
What a beautiful day last Saturday was! I got on my bicycle in the morning at the Gulfport entrance to the Pinellas Trail and took a nice leisurely ride downtown to the Saturday Morning Market. After waiting in line for my huevos rancheros and coffee, I proceeded to find a seat at a table.
Of all the tables located in the shade by Progress Energy Field, only one did not have a dog sitting on its owner's lap eating from the table. I was appalled. What are these folks thinking?
It appeared as if every other person visiting the market on Saturday had a dog (some had two). This is a food market for people, not an SPCA rescue parade. Leave the dog at home. Trust me as a pet owner, the dog would prefer to stay at home as well rather than wading through a sea of hairy legs.
Martin Daugherty, St. Petersburg
Red light cameras
Politicians' real intent
On the surface, red light cameras at certain intersections sound like a good idea. The premise by municipalities is to promote safety, and let's be truthful, to raise money. If safety is the true concern, then it should be required by state law that all intersections where red light cameras are to be installed must have a digital count-down display and a mandatory eight- to 10-second yellow light following the countdown to zero. This would prevent rear-end accidents, which have already been shown to increase when such cameras are installed.
If the true concern is safety, then it's a no-brainer. The cost for such displays can easily be paid for by the additional revenue derived from the tickets issued. Also, a greater effort needs to be made to synch lights to promote fewer stops when continuously traveling on the same road. This would reduce accidents while also promoting fuel and emissions conservation. Let's see what the politicians' real intent is.
Bob Skidmore, South Pasadena