NJ again considering mandatory recess at elementary schools
The idea already died at the hands of Gov. Chris Christie this year, but lawmakers next month plan to again discuss mandatory recess for students in kindergarten through fifth grade.
The effort may be for naught; Christie wants nothing to do with it.
Christie said he's certainly not opposed to recess at school, but he doesn't believe it's something state government should be mandating.
"I think it's something that should be done at the local school board level," Christie said during a news conference at Union County College in Cranford. "Why should I be deciding that? Why should the state be deciding that?"
He said if parents feel their child is not getting enough time for recess each day, they should try to convince the principal that's the case — and if that doesn't work, go straight to the school board.
"I'm a Republican — I really am — and I think that less government involvement in people's lives is something we should strive for," Christie said.
The measure, sponsored in the state Senate by Democrat Shirley Turner, was pocket vetoed by Christie in January.
An identical measure was introduced by Turner in February, noting 16 percent of the nation's children are overweight and a growing number of children are developing cardiovascular risk factors and Type 2 diabetes.
Responding to Christie's comments, Turner said too many districts are eliminating recess in favor of more academic class time and standardized testing preparation.
"Obesity and obesity-related diseases cost U.S. taxpayers billions each year, so it's in the public's interest for the government to be involved in order to protect our children, as well as New Jersey taxpayers," Turner said.
Under her proposal, at least 20 minutes of recess would be required daily, and the recess period would be held outdoors, "if feasible."