Schools and Kid Fitness

This week, two more bills related to physical education and activity requirements will be heard in the House Education K-12 Subcommittee.  From TSBA’s TLN Notes:

HB 0836 by Rep. Gary Moore (D-Joelton) rewrites the present requirement of 90 minutes of physical activity per week to one that mandates 30 minutes per day. HB 1441 by Rep. Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) requires every public school student in grades K-8 to participate in physical education each day during the school year – 150 minutes per week for elementary students and 225 minutes per week for middle school students.

There’s no disputing that obesity is on the rise, not only amongst children, but the population in general.  And therein lies the problem: kids aren’t getting fat and sedentary at school, but like so many other things, school is expected to provide the solution.

Schools have our children for about seven hours a day, 183 days per year.  If we expect public schools to fulfill their mission of actually educating students in the core subjects, providing exposure to a little bit of art and music (helping to develop different parts of the brain), and all of the other things that are already required, we cannot add more unrelated responsibilities.

At some point, legislators are going to have to realize that parents do have an actual role in rearing these children, and that schools cannot both parent and educate in 183 partial days per year.

4 thoughts on “Schools and Kid Fitness

  1. Extend the school day to eight hours and the school year to 200+ days. Develop the body as well as the mind.

  2. Preach on, Netmom! I completely agree with you.

    How many kids get home from school and shift straight into couch potato mode? Parents, instead of being parents, allow the tv and the computer to be the babysitter.

    And how many parents aren’t really keeping up with their children’s nutrition? The parents send the kids off to school with “healthy” breakfasts such as Pop Tarts. The kids eat pizza and fries at school for lunch (offered every day at my kids’ school, for example). Then the parents let them come home and drink Cokes and eat Cheetos and then have some heated up microwave meal for “dinner”… and then they wonder why their kids are out of shape?

    Teaching kids about good nutrition and physical fitness is one thing… but putting the game plan into action is another.

    Just like sex ed. The soaring rate of teen sexual activity, pregnancy, and STDs are directly proportional to the lack of parental involvement and follow-through beforehand.

  3. I wouldn’t call physical education “unrelated” to the educational mission of public schools.

    My suggestion is that, at least at the high school level, students be able to take a place-out exam at the beginning of the year. Meet certain minimal milestones of fitness (presumably by exercising at home) and you get exempted from the phys ed requirement for that year and can take another academic class in its place.

  4. Good possibilities, Joel. I’m not at all advocating that we do away with PE, but object to adding more to the school day.

    Participation in school sports teams should be able to serve as a substitute in high school.

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