Recess making comeback in public schools: ‘Children do better when they have a break’

After a years of teetering on the brink, recess is making a comeback in public schools as state lawmakers move to reinstate playground time lost in the push for higher test scores. Last week, Arizona and Virginia approved bipartisan recess bills, following on the heels of Florida in June and Rhode Island in 2016, as pressure builds from parents who argue that all work and no play is hobbling student achievement. Providing daily recess for elementary-school children “helps them with stress and built-up energy,” said Sylvia Tenney Allen, the bill’s sponsor and chair of the Arizona Senate Education Committee. “Studies prove that children do better when they have a break throughout the day.” For Christine Davis of Phoenix, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey’s decision to sign the bill Thursday represented the culmination of an effort that began three years ago when she asked her daughters what they did during recess — and was greeted with blank stares. “I would ask my kids, ‘Hey, what did you do at recess today? Any tetherball? Any kickball?’ And they’d be like, ‘Well, not really. We only go once, and it’s only for 10 minutes,’ ” Ms. Davis said. “That’s when I went, what? And that’s when I learned also that so many parents and grandparents just have no idea.” Nine states now require daily recess in elementary schools, said Carly Wright, director of public policy and advocacy for SHAPE America, the Society of Health and Physical Educators, which champions recess and physical education. Each state bill has its twist. The Arizona measure requires elementary schools to provide two recess periods per day without specifying the length of the break. The Florida and Rhode Island bills require 20 minutes of daily recess. Objections have centered on the wisdom of allowing state legislators to override the authority of local school boards, as well as concerns about whether more teeter-totter time will result in lower test scores. “All it does is add an additional mandate to schools that we have to comply with,” Chris Kotterman, a lobbyist for the Arizona School Boards Association, said in testimony against the bill, as reported by The Arizona Republic. Even local superintendents who want to extend recess may find their hands tied by federal and state mandates on curriculum hours, a dilemma that Arizona and Virginia have addressed by allowing schools to count recess as instructional time. Virginia moved to expand recess last week when Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, signed a measure authorizing school districts to include “unstructured recreational time” in their “total instruction time or teaching hours.” During debate on the bill, “There was concern about core subjects, and what it’s taking away from, and are we teaching enough science and history as it is?” said Barbara Larrimore, who leads More Recess for Virginians. She argued that “this is going to enhance the education process, not take away from it,” because “they’re going to come back refreshed. They’re going to come back with more attention than if they had if they were working straight through.” Schools have seesawed for years between recess and instructional hours under pressure to improve standardized test performance, but playground time took its biggest tumble with the 2001 enactment of No Child Left Behind. Faced with the prospect of raising scores or losing federal funding, school districts in some cities, including Atlanta, Chicago and Detroit, eliminated recess entirely. “That’s when it really ramped up. You saw schools all over the country cut to only lunch recess or, in many cases, cut to none,” said Ms. Davis, a lawyer and founder of Arizonans for Recess. “So 2001 is kind of the year we recess advocates look at and say, ‘That’s when it really got dire.’ “ The rules of the game changed in 2015, when Congress shifted more control to the states by replacing No Child Left Behind with the Every Student Succeeds Act, but many schools “just stuck to the recess cut,” she said. “That’s why education advocates are increasingly turning to the state legislatures for mandates because we just haven’t been able to make a dent at the local level,” Ms. Davis said. “We go to them and say, ‘Hey, recess is great for kids, the research is very clear, and on top of that, you don’t have to work under that No Child framework anymore.’ And for some reason, they just don’t hear that.”

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This is America’s favorite Girl Scout cookie

Christmas might be the “most wonderful time of the year” but there’s another season that comes in close second: Girl Scout cookie season. It’s a tradition that started in 1917 by the Girl Scout organization as a way to raise money and teach young girls business skills. But it’s grown into a nationwide phenomenon as every year from January to April, people flock to grocery store parking lots to find the tables run by local Girl Scouts and stock their pantries (and freezers) with the familiar colorful packages. Numerous flavors have come and gone throughout the 100+ years that the Girl Scouts have been selling cookies… but which type is actually America’s favorite? It’s a divisive topic, something that cookie fans feel very strongly about. There are those who love the tangy taste of the Lemonade cookies while others swear by the creamy peanut butter filling and chocolate coating of traditional Tagalongs. According to the official organization website, the best-selling Girl Scout cookie is the Thin Mint. There’s something about the fresh flavor and crunchy chocolate that we all love, especially when paired with a glass of cold milk. Each bright package goes for $5 and contains about 38 cookies (they won’t last long, promise!). The Thin Mint cookie is so popular (the Girl Scouts sold 50 million boxes of these in 2013 alone) that it has been turned into other products as well. Dunkin Donuts now sells Thin Mint iced coffee and you can snag a box of Thin Mint cereal during your next Target run. Yoplait recently released a Thin Mint yogurt and donut shops across the country are creating confections with that popular mint chocolate combination. It’s a nostalgic cookie most (if not all) of us have enjoyed at some point or another. But if you’re missing out on the fun because of a dietary restriction, no worries—the Girl Scouts recently introduced gluten-free cookies (Trios and Toffee-tastic) and select versions of the cookies are vegan, so everyone can enjoy the popular treat. And while the Thin Mint might be the organization’s best-seller, the S’mores flavor—launched in 2017 in celebration of 100 years of selling cookies—became the most popular Girl Scout cookie to ever be released. And they’re super good. Looks like Thin Mints might have some competition…

Starnes: Why are San Francisco Chickens Wearing Diapers?

The rich and famous of San Francisco are falling head over heels for a new status symbol — pet chickens. Some Bay Area chicken-lovers are spending as much as $400 for a chicken — and nearly $20,000 for high-tech homes to house their pet birds. The Washington Post reports one poultry paradise is constructed from sustainable red pine and comes equipped with solar panels. It’s called the “Range Rover of chicken cribs.” And if you think that’s a bit odd — some feathered foul have their own personal chefs — and there are reports that locals have commenced to clothing their chickens in diapers. So it’s possible that somewhere on Nob Hill — a pampered bird is clucking around the yard wearing a pair of Huggies. Consider this paragraph from the Post story: ““Silicon Valley chickens are often considered “members of the family,” explained Moira Hanes, noting that she refuses to eat baked chicken from Whole Foods in front of her three birds. A Berkeley professor registered her one-eyed special needs rooster, Gwennie, as an emotional support animal. Because of his cross beak disability, she feeds him baby food mixed with grain. He also gets a weekly bath and a blow dry — “which he LOVES,” she said in an email.” It’s just not right, America. Although, I must say that Southerners love to dress up chickens, too. Instead of diapers, we prefer to cover our birds in batter and roll them around in seasoned flour and then gently dip them in a bath of peanut oil. I’m not so sure that chickens make good pets — but they certainly make for a delicious Sunday after church supper. They’re finger licking good.

No, you are not reading The Onion..  This really is happening in San Fran..  Thanks to Todd Starnes for bringing us that laugh..      🙂

6 In 10 Adults Are Too Scared To Visit The Dentist

Feeling bristled? Imagine how your teeth might feel, especially if you’ve been putting off your annual checkup. If you have, you’re likely far from alone. A new study finds that six in 10 American adults are too scared to visit the dentist. Researchers at Hello Products, a dental care startup, polled 2,000 adults in the U.S. on their oral hygiene habits, which led to some more-than-toothless findings. For instance, among the more stunning results, the survey showed that three in 10 millennials only brush their teeth once a day. Millennials also admit they’ve gone two or three days on average without brushing at all. Yet, a convincing majority (56 percent) expressed fear or anxiety over losing their teeth, despite possessing slovenly dental habits. “It’s crucial to take the right steps every day to maintain a healthy mouth,” reminds Craig Dubitsky, Hello Products’ founder. “This involves using effective oral care products, as well as being mindful of your daily habits.” Going to the dentist was admittedly a phobia for most respondents — overall, 62% of adults surveyed said that they were too spooked to even visit a dentist’s office — but particularly among millennials, perhaps helping explain why their much-flaunted smiles appear to be at-risk. Millennials were more likely than those over 55 to create excuses to avoid regular dental checkups (56 percent to 36 percent, respectively). “Going to the dentist has many advantages aside from ensuring you have pearly whites and bad breath prevention,” says California based dentist, Dr. Lawrence Fung, DDS, founder of Silicon Beach Dental. “Research has shown that there are many linkages to oral health and your overall health. For what it’s worth, dentists were feared almost seven times as much as neurologists (9%), and more than twice as much as surgeons (26%).

Soo… Bottom line..  Millennials are, as a group, gross!  And, they’re a bunch of sissy la las.  I mean, c’mon..  The idea that being far more scared of getting your 6 month check-up and a cleaning over an appointment with a neurosurgeon (a BRAIN doctor), is crazy!  For more on this disturbing article, click on the text above.

In digital age, circus maintains flesh-and-blood appeal

Budapest’s international circus festival shows audiences are still captivated by the emotion of a live performance, Charlie Chaplin’s son Eugene, who heads the jury, said. The 12th Budapest International Circus Festival, with artists from all over the world, has performances from horseback-riders, jugglers, illusionists and aerial acrobats. And this year, it pays tribute to the 250th anniversary of the founding of the modern circus by Philip Astley, an English equestrian, in London in 1768. “The circus has a big show value. My father liked it and I think the important thing is you … must have some kind of emotion, and if this feeling, this emotion comes out, the public gets it,” Chaplin told Reuters. Chaplin was the biggest star in Hollywood’s silent movie era. Eugene Chaplin is one of his 11 children, and is a renowned recording engineer, and documentary filmmaker. In the opening act, Kevin Richter, a young Hungarian artist, performs a traditional horseback acrobat act, riding close to 20 horses in the circus ring. “The audience loves it that it is not a film they are watching, not some kind of edited recording, or a digitalised film… here acrobats risk their lives and this is a unique experience,” said Florian Richter, his father. Florian himself won the Golden Clown award at the 32nd Monte-Carlo International Circus Festival in 2008 with his own horseback act.

It’s refreshing to hear that the circus still has it’s appeal in this digital age..    🙂

Apple investors urge tech giant to help curb iPhone addiction among kids

Two of Apple’s biggest investors sent an open letter to the tech giant on Saturday urging the company to take prompt action to curb what they see as a growing smartphone addiction among children. Amid numerous reports about a mounting health crisis – both physical and mental – related to the entrancing qualities of smartphones, activist investor Jana Partners LLC and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System have asked Apple to create new ways for parents to restrict children’s access to their iPhones. “There is a developing consensus around the world including Silicon Valley that the potential long-term consequences of new technologies need to be factored in at the outset, and no company can outsource that responsibility,” the letter said. “Apple can play a defining role in signaling to the industry that paying special attention to the health and development of the next generation is both good business and the right thing to do.” The two investors collectively control $2 billion worth of Apple shares. Among their proposals to Apple: establish an expert committee including child development specialists; offer Apple’s vast information to researchers; and enhance mobile device software so that parents have more options to protect their children’s health. The letter cited various studies and surveys on how the heavy usage of smartphones and social media negatively affects children’s mental and physical health. Examples include distractions by digital technologies in the classroom, a decreased ability of students to focus on educational tasks, and higher risks of suicide and depression. The letter from investors comes at a time of mounting criticism about the long-term health impact of heavy usage of smartphones and social media – especially among children. While tech companies like Apple have remained mum about the addictiveness of their products, many Silicon Valley insiders have started to speak openly about the issue.

I think I feel dumber for having read that piece courtesy of the lazy and liberal Associated Press (AP).  How on earth is it Apple’s responsibility and/or fault if a kid is addicted to their iPhone?!?  Here’s a novel thought…  How about parents step up to the plate and be, well.. parents?!!  It is the PARENT’S responsibility to ensure their little rug rats are becoming zombies and wasting away their youth with iPhones, XBOXes, and so on.  The article suggested that Apple can’t “outsource” the responsibility.  Of course it can.  It can outsource it right back to the actual responsible parents.  Unreal…   Anyway, if you wish to read more of this mind-numbing article, and maybe lose a few IQ points in the process, click on the text above.

Taco Bell releases its own Mexican-style beer

Those who love Taco Bell and beer no longer have to choose between a chalupa and a brewski. The Cal-Mexican fast food chain has announced in a press release the roll out of its very own beer – the Beach Bell. The brew will be a Mexican-style amber lager that was created in conjunction with Four Sons Brewing, a craft brewer located in Huntington Beach, CA. The beer will be hitting the tap at Taco Bell’s Cantina store – the millennial-friendly minimalist set-up that slings booze and burritos underneath cool Edison lightbulbs. However, Taco Bell enthusiasts living outside of Southern California can hold their excitement. The company revealed the Beach Bell will only be served at the Taco Bell Cantina in Newport Beach, with no word on a larger release. Die-hard fans still have the ability to drown their sorrows, though — Taco Bell Cantinas nationwide sell a collection of domestic beer, wine and boozy “Twisted Freezes.”