So much to do, so little time
There's been much criticism lately of the state mandate that elementary school students get 30 minutes of daily physical activity. It's not the requirement that has gotten the attention, but rather the way schools have "creatively" gotten around it.
To solve the problem, lawmakers have introduced legislation that would have schools offer "30 consecutive minutes" of P.E., or what House sponsor Chris Dorworth, R-Lake Mary, termed "a legitimate 30 minutes." The bill also would have middle schools provide that daily period of physical activity, beginning in 2009. Middle school parents could waive the requirement for their children.
Lawmakers - as well as many education and health groups - see the benefits of getting today's Nintendo and McDonald's generation up and moving. But even as they moved the bill forward this morning, some key members on the House Schools and Learning Council signaled they might not support it on the floor over some concerns that they're asking schools to cram too much into the six-period day.
"We can't keep putting requirements on our teachers and principals and expect them to achieve high academic standards unless we add another period to the school day," said Rep. John Legg, R-New Port Richey, who runs a charter school.
Rep. Marti Coley, R-Marianna, said the bill confounded her. "As a teacher, I see many problems in scheduling, in offering (educational) opportunities to children," she said. "Then as a parent, I also see the need to make sure kids get enough exercise."
Without changes, Coley concluded, she might ultimately vote against the bill, too.
Rep. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, supported the bill, arguing that the problem lay with the school schedule, not the bill. "We are, in fact, trying to shove 25 pounds of sugar into a 5-pound sack," Simmons said. "We do need to deal with the critical problem of the length of the school day."
He and others suggested that Dorworth take the timing into consideration as the legislation moves forward. Dorworth acknowledged the issue as he asked for support.
"We're kind of debating having well-rounded children at the expense of well-rounded children," he said.
(Times photo, 2007)