A Mesquite Mom Advocates for Recess
August 17, 2011
By Sarah Rosenberg, HSC intern
Engaged parents are a key part of healthy, successful schools. Today we’re excited to share the story of one such parent who is working hard to make school healthier for children in her state by advocating for recess.
When Corrie Meyer found out that her son's public school not only took recess time for sessions with students with learning disabilities, but they also took it away as punishment for disruptive behavior, she wasn't happy; but what could she do?
“It was all just by accident,” she said when I spoke with her about her recent efforts to get a statewide mandate for recess. “I joined the PTA, and the more time I spent there the more it became something where I felt like I wanted to do something.”
When the principal at her school wasn't receptive to changing the recess policy, she decided to seek help from her representative to the Texas legislature, Rep. Cindy Burkett. Burkett was enthusiastic about supporting Meyer's idea. Within weeks a bill was written and filed that would mandate recess for schools the state.
Of course, writing legislation is one thing; getting it passed is a whole different ballgame. This is particularly true in a state where regulation is often considered a dirty word and many leaders aren’t on board with the idea of a state-wide mandate for recess. Meyer herself wishes it wasn’t necessary.
“I hate that we have to demand it,” she said. “But we do.”
That’s why Meyer has been working hard to build support for recess and other education initiatives. She is an active blogger, writing as “Just a Mom in Mesquite,” reaching out to others knowledgeable and passionate about education issues, networking at events like the recent Texas Parent-Teacher Association conference.
“When parents are blogging or talking about these issues, it makes it easier for other people to come to the table,” Meyer explained. And the reaction from parents seems to be mostly positive, she said: they know their kids, and they know kids need a break.
The Texas legislature adjourned this year without holding a hearing on Meyer’s bill, the next step in the legislative process. Though one representative in particular has been trying to block the measure, Meyer is undeterred. Her attitude to obstacles is that if you can’t go through them, just go around them. In this case, she has been calling the reluctant representative’s campaign contributors to discuss the issue with them.
The next chance for Meyer’s bill is not until 2013, as Texas switches between legislative sessions and budgetary sessions. Meyer sees the extra time as a good thing, especially with the elections coming up: “We’ve got two years to point-blank ask candidates their feelings on [recess].”
If you’re from Texas, you can take action as part of Meyer’s effort: visit her campaign’s action website to raise your voice and help make sure all kids in the state have recess.
For parents interested in starting a campaign of their own, Meyer also has some advice: “Do the research and do the homework. Definitely pay attention to what is happening in legislation. And network -– don’t do it alone.”
Here at HSC, we were happy to be in touch with Corrie and offer support throughout this effort. If you are working on similar issues in your state, don’t hesitate to contact us. We can offer advice and technical support and help connect you with others in the area who may be working on similar issues.
Plus: Parents in HSC's Parents United for Healthy Schools coalition recently celebrated a milestone in recess advocacy when the CEO of Chicago Public Schools announced plans to bring back recess to all elementary schools in the district! Read more here.