Recess Has Some New Competition

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One of SchoolBook's prolific commenters is Vicki Zunich, who is passionate about the need for young children to have more play and unstructured time during the school day.

The New York Times offers plenty of fodder for discussion Wednesday in an article by Kyle Spencer that looks at how recess and lunchtime are being turned into structured club and enrichment time for children at some of the city's highest performing schools.

At Public School 188 Kingsbury in Bayside, Queens, for instance, fourth graders can be found finishing a poster for a school play; music students are practicing "Hear Those Bells" on their recorders; cheerleaders are working on a victory chant, and a Suzuki violin class is working on "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star," all during midday recess.

At P.S. 6 Lillie D. Blake on the Upper East Side, the article says, "students can design video games, build miniature roller coasters, learn about electrical circuits and perfect magic tricks at PTA-sponsored recess clubs."

At nearby P.S. 290 Manhattan New School, "lunch clubs allow students to learn improvisational performance, make comic books, learn sign language and knit." And at P.S. 372 the Children's School in Brooklyn, "fourth- and fifth-grade lunch club members can choose from an array including mosaic designing, mural making and embroidery. The school also offers chorus and dance."

The article says that many parents are happy with this trend, because it allows students to participate in activities that can no longer fit into the school day. But, it points out, "recent studies, including one published in 2009 in the medical journal Pediatrics, indicate that many children learn better and behave better when free time is part of the school day."

What do you think of this trend and the need for children to have free time during the school day? Answer the query below.

Speaking of play, seems the city and state are not playing nicely lately when it comes to education, according to an article in The Times by the city education reporter, Fernanda Santos, "Albany and City Hall Clash on Education."

The article looks at the blunt, recent comments by Merryl H. Tisch, the State Board of Regents chancellor, who has been critical of city schools' performance and recently referred to the large city high schools as "warehouses."

City officials have been stung by her remarks, the article says. But when asked by Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott why she did not take her complaints directly to him, rather than to the editorial board of The Daily News, she said she told him, "If you don’t want me to tell the truth, you have the wrong person on this job.”

Dr. Tisch has questioned the value of a high school diploma from the city and the reliability of test-score increases among students in grades three through eight, telling the audience at a forum in August, “I think the city has an obligation to show the public that what they’ve done here is real.”

She has accused the city of making it too easy for students who fail a course to make up the credits. And she has undercut the city’s leadership — for example, months before the city was to release its measures on how well high schools were preparing students for higher education, the state put out its own report that said three out of four students who finished high school in four years needed extra help once they got to college.

“When you have 75 percent of the youngsters graduating high schools who are going to two-year colleges needing to be remediated,” Dr. Tisch said at the forum, “are you kidding me?”

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, a friend of Ms. Tisch's, has responded to her criticisms, but it does not look as if the state chancellor is about to slink quietly away.

“I don’t care what critics say,” she said in an interview. “When I walk the streets of New York, people come up to me and thank me for giving them some clarity.”

The Daily News reports that two Roman Catholic elementary schools in Brooklyn, Holy Name of Jesus on Prospect Park West and the Immaculate Heart of Mary on Fort Hamilton Parkway, will close at the end of the school year and reopen as a combined academy.

The Daily News also reports that the principal of Jane Addams High School for Academic Careers, Sharron Smalls, met with parents about how the school's credit scandal affects their children, but some parents walked away dissatisfied with what they heard.

Margie Feinberg, a spokeswoman for the city's Department of Education, told The News that officials will finish reviewing transcripts for the senior class by Friday.

“If there are any changes to student schedules or other supplementary supports are necessary, we will let the students know by Monday and will have a follow-up meeting with the parents next week,” Ms. Feinberg told The News.

Here are some of the events scheduled for Wednesday:

In the morning, the National Assessment of Educational Progress will release "The Nation's Report Card: Mathematics and Reading 2011 Trial Urban District Assessment" that reports on academic achievement results for fourth and eighth graders from 21 large city school districts, including New York City.

Chancellor Walcott will attend a Town Hall meeting of the Community Education Council District 2 at 6 p.m. at the Bayard Rustin Educational Complex, 351 West 18th Street.

Want to learn about healthy fund-raising strategies? City schools will showcase various opportunities to raise money with healthy activities — fresh produce, exercise events — and there will be information available about city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and Education Department wellness programs at the City University's Graduate Center,
365 Fifth Avenue, Concourse level, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

And on The Learning Network is a Pearl Harbor lesson plan in which students use historical reporting in The Times as well as social media to learn about the attacks.