mandatory recess, school lunch, test scores and that pesky elephant in the room.

Earlier this month, the Houston Chronicle published an op ed written by former first lady Barbara Bush about the current state of education in Texas. Most shocking, were the stats she cited:

Our schools are in crises:

•  We rank 36th in the nation in high school graduation rates. An estimated 3.8 million Texans do not have a high school diploma.

•  We rank 49th in verbal SAT scores, 47th in literacy and 46th in average math SAT scores.

Obviously, this is bad…considering we only have 50 states. Worse, not mentioned in her editorial, is that Texas as a state only has about a 42% participation rate for the SATs. So, consider this: less than half of our high school students took the SAT…and ranked this low.

however, we are topping the charts in some areas.

  • When it comes to having the highest obesity rates in children ages 10-17, we are ranked 6th.
  • A whopping 42% of Texas fourth graders are considered overweight or obese.
  • When we look at the Fitnessgram results for all students in Texas, less than 10% of  high school students are considered physically fit.

The correlation between a child’s health and a child’s ability to learn is staring everyone in the face. Giving children a  tougher curriculum, more homework, and adopting a more ridgid standarized test is just another punch thrown to the already dead horse we’ve been beating. On the other hand, giving them less time to develop socially, less time to be active, and less things like healthy non-over processed foods will help us get to 50th place quicker. This isn’t rocket science.

So, one more time just to be clear:

As childhood obesity rises…test scores get lower.

Ms. Bush’s editorial was also a plea to parents to take more responsibility on behalf of our kid’s education:

Some parents forget they are their children’s first teachers, and the home is the first school. When our kids come home from school, do they read a book, or do they sit glued to the television or the Internet? Do they see us reading? Do we eat together, or does everybody “grab a bite” and dash out the door? Do we talk and listen? Do we help with homework? Are we active in the PTA? Do we make sure we attend all parent-teacher conferences, or do we use work as an excuse to skip out occasionally? It’s easier to be a lazy parent than a good parent, but with parenthood comes responsibility and accountability.

She makes a great point. And with that, as a parent, I would like to ask elected officials and our State Board of Education the exact same things:

Some policy makers forget parents are the children’s first teachers. When our kids are at school, are they given opportunites to be physically fit, or are they told to stay glued to their seats? Do they get to socialize? Or are they told to be quiet and stop fidgeting? Do they get to eat in an environment that embraces healthy lifestyles? Or are they taught over-processed food is healthy and encouraged to scarf it down quietly in roughly 18 minutes? Do you listen when science and research connects food additives to behavioral problems? Are you active in the PTA? Do you make sure to address all parent-teacher pleas, or do you use your position as an excuse to remain apathetic? Do you embrace unstructured recess and its connection to a socially developed child, or do you use bad budgeting and lack of time management skills as an excuse to deny it?  It’s easier to be an elected offical that goes along with the majority than one who actually looks at the big picture, takes time to understand the real issue and chooses to act accordingly. But, remember this, with the future of our children’s health and education in your hands comes responsibility and accountability.  

I can’t make a law protecting our children’s health. But you can. I’m holding you accountable.  

And for you parents (AKA…the first teachers)….click here to sign my petition supporting unstructured mandatory recess in Texas elementary schools. Why? Because you get the bigger picture.


Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex…It takes a touch genius-and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction. -Albert Einstein



2 Comments to “mandatory recess, school lunch, test scores and that pesky elephant in the room.”

  1. So true Clay! I’m hoping the “listen to our kids” happens sooner than later.

  2. It’s obvious that we have been taking away more and more of our student’s freedom at school. It’s all about making more time for learning and testing to try to fix a growing problem, but where is that getting us. There needs to be a healthy balance between fun and work. Students need to enjoy the overall experience at school in order to thrive. Forcing academics down their throats is obviously not working. Let’s listen to our kids for a change.

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