Where do the children play?
There are two madnesses running unchecked throughout primary education. One is the tendency to medicate kids for the once-normal qualities of childhood. If a kid fidgets, he's got ADD and there's a pill. If he's unusually focused, then it's Asperger's Syndrome and there's another pill.
The second is our mania for standardized tests. What started as a good idea -- let's see how well schools do -- has become a be-all, end-all, tail-wag-the-dog enterprise where cash-strapped schools, crazed to throw off good scores, spend more time cribbing kids to ace the tests than they do teaching them stuff they actually need to know.
Testing is part of what the National PTA blames for the inhumane drive against playground recess. A full 40 percent of schools nationwide, according to the PTA, either have banned recess or are considering it, in part to free up time to cram for tests.
Kids need to exercise -- everyone does, but particularly children. They need the activity that recess provides, and they need the how-do-we-pick-up-a-team social training that also comes from unstructured play.
The irony is that schools close off the outlets for kids to get exercise, then drug the ones who don't take well to sitting behind a desk all day.
No educator in his or her right mind would consider doing away with recess, no parent who gave a damn would countenance it. It's child abuse.