‘Parent Power’: Senate Bill 78 – Recess (Flores, R-Miami) would require every school district in the state to provide at least 20 minutes per day/100 minutes per week of recess for children in kindergarten through fifth grade. Currently, some elementary schools provide recess and others do not. The bill’s supporters included the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE) and the Florida PTA. All cited both the academic and health benefits for children of daily, unstructured playtime in addition to regular physical education classes. But the bill’s strongest advocates were parents. Calling themselves ‘recess moms’ they spoke passionately to legislators about the need for their children to have a daily physical activity break, not only to develop social skills but also to focus better when they are in the classroom.
SB 78 passed the Senate Appropriations Committee this week, its final stop before a full vote on the Senate Floor. Bill sponsor, Senate President Pro Tempore Anitere Flores, said it won approval “thanks to the power of advocacy by parents.” A House companion bill, HB 67, has not yet been heard in committee.
‘Keys to Independence’: Legislation to help foster children get their driver’s licenses passed unanimously in its final committees this week and heads for floor votes in both the House and Senate. House Bill 217 (Sullivan, R-Mt. Dora) and Senate Bill 60 (Bean, R-Fernandina Beach) make permanent a pilot program created three years ago by the Florida Legislature called Keys to Independence, which pays for driver education, licenses and auto insurance for youth in the child welfare system.