HB 3770: an email and the ripple effect.



{ripple effect} is a term used to describe a situation where, like the ever expanding ripples across water when an object is dropped into it, an effect from an initial state can be followed outwards incrementally. spread of consequences: a spreading series of effects or consequences caused by a single event. *

Admittedly, the past couple of weeks I have been busy…spring break, amazing weather, school..in other words, life. I’ve let my updates, posts and tweets about HB 3770 somewhat dwindle to only mildy obnoxious. However, over the weekend, I received an email from a woman in the Houston area that snapped be back into legislation reality.  

What struck me the most about the email was her desperation, sense of urgency, and frustration jumping from the text. Reading it, I could picture her sitting at her computer, pouring her heart out..and like me, hoping to make a change. With her permission, I’m going to let you read it:

Hi, my name is Sarah Brown.  I joined the fight for recess in Houston back in August when our principal took half of recess away and stated that she needed the other minutes that the district has designated for recess for READING time so the kids can be focused and back on task. We have fought this at all levels, had some write ups in the paper and on the news.  I joined the School Health Advisory and last month this council voted to put a formal recommendation that the school board mandate a full 20 minutes of time on the playground for unstructured play.  I started a website – www.SaveRecess.org and when I get home in a bit I will put up the link to get more signatures and raise more awareness about this bill. 

I spoke with Dan Patrick and he was persistent that he felt recess was best left up to each school district and he hasn’t budged. I dont know what it will take to get more politicians to support this.  My 3rd grader wrote me a note about how sad and stressed she was and could I make school stop because she couldn’t handle it. A 35 year veteran teacher cried when she read it and stated that it was like having a suicide note from an 8 year old.  The systems are failing miserably to serve the whole child and I will do what I can to help, please get in touch with me when you can – would love to brainstorm on getting the message out there and getting the parents voices heard.
Sarah Brown

To answer her question, the only way I know to get politicians to budge about recess…is to educate them. I think it’s easy, sometimes, for our elected officials to not quite pay attention. And by “pay attention”…I mean actively listen, with their undivided attention. 

benefit of the doubt time.

I’m sure Sarah ran into the same “Sure, I’ll hear you out” kind of attention that most constituents get. Our elected officials are busy, I get that. I, myself, have to remember that HB 3770 isn’t the only bill out there (I hear, apparently, there’s a few thousand others..).

Usually, when I write about the bill on this blog, I tend to take the elected official/school district -friendly route as to not draw any negative attention to myself…and indirectly, the bill. Inadvertently, I sometimes lose the passion, frustration, and urgency in my writing along the way. The same thing happens when I talk to people about it. I don’t mean my friends and family (trust, they get an earful), but the people I have to convince about recess. There is a delicate balance between explaining to someone why recess is necessary for children and inundating them with facts, research, and the benefits of why recess is necessary. This especially holds true if the topic isn’t a priority for them in the first place. They tend to zone out somewhere between, “Hi, my name is..” and, “recess isn’t just about obesity”.

I have a feeling Sarah may have run up against something like this in her meeting with Senator Dan Patrick. Here she is, a mom, asking her elected official, to help children get recess. She probably only had a few minutes (if that) to speak to him. He, like most, probably only heard, “I want kids to have more time to play at school.” So, instead of taking the time to get educated about recess or asking Sarah for input on the matter,  he probably just passed the buck to the school district. And we all know how well that works out.

On the other hand, when it comes to the well-being of Sarah’s daughter, my son and the other five million plus children in Texas, recess deserves a fair (and un-divided) listen. This is the letter Sarah’s daughter had written to her:

“Dear Mommy, I can’t take it anymore, please help me I am so sad at school, I cant do anything, I am so stupid, I always fail, I hate this mommy please help me, I am scared I won’t pass tax test, I hate this, please is there a school with no stress, please mommy.”

This is the part where I feel like I should write something profound, giving the reader that “ah-ha, now I understand recess” moment.  But I can’t. I can’t get passed that her daughter is 8 and feels like this. I can’t get passed that my son is 8 and feels like this. I can’t get passed how ridiculous it is that we need to convince an entire state that children deserve a 20 minute (at the very least) break at school. I can’t get passed how so many people don’t get that we are talking about children.

but here is what i can do.

I can share Sarah’s story with you. I can direct you to her site. I can send you to this amazing interview with her from Kaboom.

And then, I can email this post to Senator Patrick. I can send him a link on his Facebook. I can Tweet it to him. Hopefully, he will read it..and give Sarah and her daughter a chance to really discuss the importance of this this bill and what it means to them.


 *thanks wikipedia!


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