Baby doc decries school restrictions - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Baby doc decries school restrictions

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March 15, 2006

< STRONG> Albany -- Pediatrician Dr. Bruce Smith is worried that the current "No Child left Behind Program" in Georgia schools could hurt children's development. Smith has asked the Dougherty County Superintendent to make sure work to improve test scores does not forget that kids need to have fun, too.

First graders at Sherwood Acres Elementary play tag during physical education. This is exactly what Dr. Bruce Smith said schools need to teach life lessons.  "If you have recess. You let them outdoors, they are going to build friendships. They are going to learn how to get along better."

Dr. Smith wrote to Dougherty County School Superintendent Sally Whatley, saying some of his patients had complained about not being able to talk with classmates at lunch or recess. He worries about socialization skills.

The students are permitted to talk quietly during lunch, except at the Magnet Schools, where parents agree to the quiet lunch before enrolling. Sherwood Acres Elementary Principal Eva Robinson said "They are allowed to talk to their next door neighbor or the person across from them. Because we want them to enjoy their meal. "

But Dr. Smith said he worries too much pressure on the students to pass test scores could hurt their education. "You are losing their attention, you're losing their enthusiasm, you are losing their desire to learn. And I think we are at the very edge of that line."

Dr. Smith recommends that Physical Education be returned to all Middle and High School grades, saying that childhood obesity and diabetes are becoming huge health problems. Dr. Smith said, "The risk of lifetime diabetes for a girl born in America, new born, is 39 percent, and for a boy is 34 percent. That's a third of us."

Dr. Smith said he knows schools are under pressure to increase test scores, but he is concerned because so many of his patients say they dislike school.

He asks Dr. Whatley in his letter to bring the fun back to the children, to help their socialization and health.

The National Parent Teacher Association is leading a letter writing campaign, urging recess be returned as part of every school day. Many states like Georgia have dropped recess because of testing and budget concerns.

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