Our story

In May 2007 , Howell, New Jersey parents started a petition to bring back recess to our elementary schools.
After collecting signatures, we presented it at a Policy Committee Meeting in July and to our BOE in August.

The BOE quickly formed a Recess Committee comprised of parents, teachers, administrators and other school
personnel. In September we met for 3 hours and came up with the following guidelines:

  • a minimum of 20 minutes of engaged play as close to mid-day as possible,
  • children should go outside for recess with age-appropriate peers,
  • children would be allowed to play outside as long as it's at least 35-degrees
    or as determined by the building administrator,
  • recess is not to be used as a reward or punishment,
  • students will not be denied recess for more than five minutes for behavioral issues,
    however, if behavioral issue persist, parents would be notified if the building
    administrator determines that recess should be denied, and
  • students will not be denied recess for inability to complete assignments

It is not what we were aiming for, but it was a compromise we all agreed upon.

The BOE approved these guidelines at the end of September and the schools were supposed to abide immediately.
That did NOT happen in every school. After all, they are guidelines and NOT mandatory. When we confronted the
principals and BOE, we were told that we needed to be flexible this year since teacher's schedules were already
made and could not be changed. They assured us that for next year, recess will be part of the daily schedule.

We received plenty of media attention, which led to an influx of phone calls by concerned parents all over the
state. That is when it was realized that this problem was not limited to our district.

In November 2007 we contacted our legislator's office and he quickly set up a meeting to address our concerns.
He was completely unaware that recess was not being offered in many of the districts.

In January 2008, Senator Robert Singer and Assemblyman Joseph Malone introduced identical bills, S226 and A467,
to establish a task force to study the benefits of student recess

Parents across the state have launched a massive letter writing campaign to gain the support of our 120
legislators. Thus far, the response has been overwhelming. If these bills and future bills pass, NJ could become
the ninth state to have a policy on recess.

March 15, 2008

Thank you for your overwhelming support! Letters are reaching our senators and assemblymen. You are being heard, and we are gaining support!
As of today, the following sponsors are registered for Bill S226:

Singer, Robert W. as Primary Sponsor
O'Toole, Kevin J. as Primary Sponsor
Girgenti, John A. as Co-Sponsor
and for Bill A467
Malone, Joseph R., III as Primary Sponsor
Cryan, Joseph as Primary Sponsor
Chiappone, Anthony as Co-Sponsor
Voss, Joan M. as Co-Sponsor
Vas, Joseph as Co-Sponsor
Please continue to write. You can find your legislative representatives here:
find your Legislator

Let the children be heard! Download a form letter that your children can send too! Please feel free to print as many
as you need. Share them with friends and classmates. We have permission and backing of Cartoon Network to use their
logo and resources!

* To download a copy in PDF form, click here
or go to Cartoon Network's website:
under "For Individual Volunteers", click on "Write a letter to your local official use this template"

April 5, 2008

We are waiting to hear the news on Assemblyman Malone's Bill A467 and Senator Singers Bill S226.
The bills will go up for vote in Trenton. That could happen as early as May or June.

Keep those letters of support coming in!

We want to hear from the children.
I am making an offer here to make it easier for those letters to get seen. Contact your PTA, or your
principal/vice principal, and ask if they will allow teachers to hand out the form letter for children to send in.
Once the letters are written, collect them.

Just to make it easier -- if anyone can collect letters from the children,
you don't even have to send them in or look up an address. Just contact me and I will arrange to get those letters from you and submit them.

(to get a copy of the children's letter, see information above)

Do you have any great RECESS news to share? go to our blog and let us know!


On Tuesday morning, I found this message in my email:

Session 2008-2009
The following bill(s) have been scheduled for a committee or a legislative session.
5/5/2008 10:00:00 AM Education
Committee Room 6, 1st Floor, State House Annex, Trenton, NJ

Not much time to get ready!

any and all are welcome to attend. This is open to the public. If you feel you should provide testimony supporting the bill, please come!

If you think you might be there, some info on the procere:
Be ready to, but don't be surprised if you don't.

First, in my opinion, we need to understand the process that a bill goes through.
Take a quick look at How a Bill Becomes Law in New Jersey. Another good source to
read (PDF file, i HIGHLY suggest that if you look at nothing else, read this one!) is
Making Your Voice Heard, it has a great little section about "Providing Testimony".

Have written copies of your testimony including facts and sources for those facts.
The facts will not necessarily be something you say in front of the Education Committee,
but they will back what you do say. How many written copies? I'm not sure. But the
brochure says to "Provide the committee with written copies of the full test of your testimony"
so I'm bringing a copy for each member (5 of them) and one for Senator Singer and one for
Assemblyman Malone (who said he would be there). So 7 copies all together.

Know the Education committee! Here are the members we will be facing:

Education Committee:

Turner, Shirley K. - Chair
Ruiz, M. Teresa - Vice-Chair
Allen, Diane B.
Bateman, Christopher
Whelan, Jim

Note that NOT ONE of these people signed as sponsers or co-sponsers of Bill S226.

And finally, we should know our bill!! No, you don't have to understand legal
mumbo-jumbo. Just glance at it and take whatever you can from it. Even if you think it
makes no sense, it will help. I have found the biggest thing I have to keep reminding
people I have spoken to is that we are NOT making a law about recess right now. We are
FORMING A TASK FORCE TO STUDY the situation and to make recommendations.

S226 Establishes Task Force to study the benefits of student recess
and make recommendations on advisability of mandatory recess in school districts.
Identical Bill Number: A467
Singer, Robert W. as Primary Sponsor
O'Toole, Kevin J. as Primary Sponsor
Girgenti, John A. as Co-Sponsor

1/8/2008 Introduced in the Senate, Referred to Senate Education Committee
Introduced - 4 pages PDF Format HTML Format

Take a look at that last line (above) ... you can see the bill if you click on the PDF or HTML link.

Other than that, I guess I'll see you in Trenton! Meeting starts at 10am

updated by karen, 05/03/08


Who would have thought that a simple request for our school to give our children recess could go this far?!

On Monday May 5th, 2008, Bill S226 was heard and decided before the Senate Education Committee. We were unanimously approved
and the bill was amended to add 2 more seats to the proposed Task Force. The NJ PTA and the NJ Physical
Education has asked and been approved to work with the Task Force.

Some news coverage:

Asbury Park Press: "The Senate Education Committee unanimously advanced a bill Monday that would establish a state task force charged
with determining whether recess should be mandated in elementary schools. The 15-member panel would examine the "physical, social,
emotional, and intellectual benefits" related to children participating in recess during school hours." (more)

Other newspapers (articles similar)
Courier News & Home News (online=MyCentralJersey.com)

Courier Post

Daily Record

Daily Journal

Listen to the audio from Monday, May 05, 2008, 19 minutes 25 seconds in ..... New Jersey State Legislature Archived Media

We were rumored to be going before the Assembly Education Committee on May 12th, but that has been pushed back. As of right now
the word is that we will be heard when the Assembly Education meets in June. More when we know.

Once we pass with the Assembly Education Committee, then we will ask everyone to start writing letters to
President of the Senate: Richard Codey, and Assembly Speaker Joseph J. Roberts, Jr asking
that they post the bills for vote.


I just received notice that we are GOING TO TRENTON AGAIN!
On Thursday, June 12, the Assembly Education Committee will decide whether or not to
support Bill A467. We will be in Committee Room 11, 4th Floor, State House Annex,
in Trenton (for those who might like to attend).

Once we pass the Assembly Education Committee, we come to the next step ...
the bill goes to the full Legislature for vote.

We need to start writing letters to the house speakers asking that they post
the bills (put them up for vote in the full Legislature) So we need letters going
to President of the Senate: Richard Codey, and Assembly Speaker Joseph J. Roberts, Jr
Once we pass the full Legislature, the bills will go on the Governor's desk to be signed
(or not!), so you can start writing to Governor Corzine too and ask that he support us.

Here are the addresses you need (you can find their email contact on their webpages,
see above for links, but written/typed letters do get more attention). Please forward
this information to friends, family, PTA, or any other groups you know. All are citizens
and all have voices, and we need their support):

Senator Richard Codey (Senate President)
449 Mount Pleasant Ave.
West Orange, NJ 07052
phone: 973-731-6770

Assemblyman Joseph J. Roberts Jr. (Assembly Speaker)
Brooklawn Shopping Plaza
Rt. 130 South & Browning Rd.
Brooklawn, NJ 08030
phone: 856-742-7600

Governor John S. Corzine
Office of the Governor
PO Box 001
Trenton, NJ 08625
phone: 609-292-6000

Feel free to share any information here and let everyone know about our website.
Please tell your PTA and any one else you know in the great Garden State!

Bill A467: http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/bills/BillView.asp?BillNumber=A467


So now keep crossing your fingers ... still has to past the legislature floor and then
go across the governor's desk.

Here is the audio... click on Listen on the row for Thursday, June 12, 2008.
We are the last bill (3 hour meeting!) so slide to the end to hear ... A467 starts
at 2:43:07:

We still need your support! Keep writing those letters to:

Senator Richard Codey (Senate President)
449 Mount Pleasant Ave.
West Orange, NJ 07052
phone: 973-731-6770

Assemblyman Joseph J. Roberts Jr. (Assembly Speaker)
Brooklawn Shopping Plaza
Rt. 130 South & Browning Rd.
Brooklawn, NJ 08030
phone: 856-742-7600

November 17, 2008: BILL A467 PASSED!

tally Y=76, N=2, A=0

Bill A467 PASSED! Now we try to get the Senate President to present the senate bill to
the floor for full vote! Letters to your senator would be greatly appreciated now.
Ask them to support bill S226 when it comes up for vote.

The session was broadcast live (video). If you missed it you can view the archives here:


Click on "view" for MOnday November 17, 2008, 1:00 PM, Assembly Chambers

Bill A467 *footage starts at 1:12:00* (move the slider to the right to that point) and is about a minute long

December 1, 2008: HEADLINES
Asbury Park Press

Public press is a good thing! The more people are aware, the more they will realize this is
a problem. The Asbury Park Press put recess front page today!

for the full article, see here: http://www.app.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2008812010313

February 2010: Back in Business!

Wow - has it really been over a year since updating? We've moved to our
Facebook page and neglected the website! Here is what happened:
A467 and S226 died. S226 never made it to the Senate floor for a vote.
But new life in 2010!
On 1/12/10, Assemblyman Malone once again introduced a bill (A1044) identical to
A467 of last year. At this time, Bill A1044 has a status of "Introduced, Referred
to Assembly Education Committee." You can read the bill here: PDF Format
or go to http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/ and search for A1044.

And it gets even better! Unknown to us, Senator Shirley Turner introduced Bill S442 to the 2010-2011
Legislative session on 1/12/2010. This bill is EXACTLY what we have been writing
about, and asking for, and testifying about. Bill S442 has been Introduced to
the Senate, Referred to Senate Education Committee. Bill S442 "Requires a public
school district to provide a daily recess period for students in grades kindergarten
though 5." You can read the full file here: PDF Format
or go to http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/ and search for S442.

Now we need to work on a couple things: 1) to get the Senate Education Committee to
approve this bill. 2) let our Senators know that we need them to support this bill and
that we want them to consider singing on as co-sponsors.
Members of the Senate Education Committee are:
Ruiz, M. Teresa - Chair
Whelan, Jim - Vice-Chair
Allen, Diane B.
Kean, Thomas H.
Turner, Shirley K.

To find NJ Senator, go to http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/members/legsearch.asp
... select a sort on the right side.


Did you catch us on the radio? listen to the clips by clicking here! 1010 WINS clips

LINKS (click to view groups who support recess):

Thank you, to the New Jersey Association for Health, Physical Education,
Recreation, and Dance (www.NJAHPERD.com) for supporting our efforts to give our
children a break!

Thank you, to the NJ PTA for supporting Rescuing Recess and Bills A467 and S226

IPA USA: The American Association for the Child's Right to Play

 Cartoon Network: Rescuing Recess

Questions or comments? Send an email click here.

Questions or comments? Send an email