The Los Angeles Daily News reports that a number of elementary schools in the sprawling Los Angeles Unified School District are trying to use expanded recess time to fulfill state and federal requirements that limited-English-speaking students “mix” with fluent English speakers for some part of each school day. But simply sending the kids out to the jungle gym and hoping that they’ll exchange a few words of English with mainstream students shouldn’t be anybody’s idea of a sound strategy for helping students gain fluency. (The district’s own policy, clearly flouted by these schools, calls for “mixing” to take place in structured settings such as physical education, art or music classes.) Expanding recess to meet those requirements both does a disservice to children and pours fuel on an already overheated debate over bilingual education. How could the schools be so dumb?

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