UPDATED – see just above the fold.
The bill mandating that public schools provide a minimum number of PE minutes per week to reduce childhood obesity rates has passed the General Assembly and awaits Governor McDonnell’s signature (see SB 966). The bill would require a total of 150 minutes of PE each week for all public school students in grades K – 12, except half day kindergarten students, starting in the Fall of 2014.
Supporters of the bill argue that increased PE time will reduce childhood obesity rates. Critics of the bill argue that it will be logistically impossible to implement as few elementary schools have dedicated gyms, the funds allocated to implement the bill are insufficient to provide adequate facilities and localities would be left with having to raise taxes or cut academic programs to meet the mandate, and the instructional day is already filled without adding another mandated segment.
We agree with the critics.
As laudable as the goal of reducing childhood obesity is, 30 minutes of PE each day will do little to resolve it. Our public schools already struggle to provide our children with the basic education they need to be college or career ready. According to the US Dept of Education, in 2008 23% of Virginia students dropped out of high school before graduating; the nationwide average dropout rate in 2008 was 24.1%. That puts Virginia schools only slightly above average nationally. We think our schools already have enough to deal with.
Perhaps more importantly, it is high time we as a society stop looking to the public schools as the means of fixing everything that ills society. Yes, Americans in general are fat and getting fatter, but that’s not the schools fault nor is it the schools job to fix that. Public schools exist to provide our children with the instruction they need to be able to go to college or enter a career. They do not exist to reduce teenage pregnancy rates, make people feel better about their lifestyle choices, or lose weight. Let’s let our schools focus on what they’re supposed to do: getting our kids college or career ready.
We encourage Governor McDonnell to veto this bill. You can send the Governor note expressing your desires here.
Oh – for those of you interested, the recorded Yeas and Neas are below. We also encourage you to contact your state Senator or Representative and let him / her know of your opinion on his / her vote.
March 26, 2011
Governor McDonnell has vetoed SB 966. The bill will return to the General Assembly for consideration when they reconvene in April.
YEAS–Alexander, Armstrong, BaCote, Barlow, Bell, Richard P., Brink, Carr, Carrico, Cox, J.A., Dance, Englin, Garrett, Greason, Herring, Hope, Howell, A.T., Iaquinto, James, Janis, Joannou, Kilgore, Knight, Lewis, Loupassi, Marshall, D.W., Marshall, R.G., Massie, McClellan, McQuinn, Merricks, Miller, J.H., Miller, P.J., Morefield, Morrissey, O’Bannon, Oder, Orrock, Peace, Phillips, Pogge, Poindexter, Purkey, Putney, Scott, J.M., Sickles, Spruill, Stolle, Tata, Torian, Toscano, Tyler, Villanueva, Ware, O., Wilt, Wright–55.
NAYS–Abbitt, Abbott, Albo, Anderson, Bell, Robert B., Bulova, Byron, Cline, Cole, Comstock, Cosgrove, Cox, M.K., Ebbin, Edmunds, Filler-Corn, Gilbert, Habeeb, Hugo, Ingram, Johnson, Jones, Keam, Kory, Landes, LeMunyon, Lingamfelter, Morgan, Nutter, Plum, Pollard, Robinson, Rust, Scott, E.T., Sherwood, Shuler, Surovell, Ward, Ware, R.L., Watts, Mr. Speaker–40.
NOT VOTING–Athey, Cleaveland, May–3.
Delegate Cleaveland recorded as not voting. Intended to vote nay.
Delegate Cosgrove recorded as nay. Intended to vote yea.
Delegate Cox, J.A. recorded as yea. Intended to vote nay.
Delegate Crockett-Stark recorded as abstaining. Intended to vote nay.
Delegate Kory recorded as nay. Intended to vote yea.
Delegate Scott, J.M. recorded as yea. Intended to vote nay.
YEAS–Barker, Blevins, Colgan, Deeds, Edwards, Herring, Houck, Howell, Locke, Lucas, Marsden, Marsh, Martin, McDougle, McEachin, McWaters, Miller, J.C., Miller, Y.B., Newman, Norment, Northam, Obenshain, Petersen, Puckett, Puller, Quayle, Reynolds, Ruff, Saslaw, Smith, Stanley, Stosch, Stuart, Ticer, Wagner, Wampler, Watkins, Whipple–38.