Sunday, May 20, 2007

More Gym, Less Academics?

Senator Deborah Cherry, D – District 26 (Oakland County, Waterford area) is proposing that the state mandate more gym class to help combat a 30-year tend in overweight children.

Oakland Press: Proposal would require more time in gym class (05/20/07)

I was a bit surprised to learn that the Rochester School District supports the idea, since the policy setting school board has not “weighed-in” on the topic.

Debbie Hartman, spokeswoman for Rochester Community Schools, said she supports the concept, but the state must allocate enough funding for it to be effective.

“Everyone agrees physical fitness is an important issue. But the primary limitation is resources. There’s only so much to go around,” Hartman said. “I would hope the state intends to give additional funding because if not, all of the expenses would fall on the schools.”

Physical fitness is certainly important to children – and adults. But this proposal assumes that the schools are somehow responsible for this problem, or are in a position to fix it. Where is the evidence to support either assumption?

And without knowing what the state expects, I really don’t see how this can be a money issue, unless they’re proposing to expand the school day to accommodate additional gym time.

What's likely to happen instead is any additional increase in phys-ed time would come at the expense of academics.

The article points out, “the prevalence of overweight children in the United States has just about tripled since the early 1970s.”

I doubt that trend is the result of any reduction in PE time at school. I think it’s more likely due to the fact that most kids spend their time out of school with their increasingly large rear-ends planted in front of the television, or in front of video games.

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