New P.E. Legislation could add hours to school day

Lawton_Oklahoma House Bill 2574 could have kids jumping, moving, and playing more in school.  The bill was developed after lawmakers learned last year that Oklahoma is behind other states in physical education requirements.  Lawton elementary schools currently participate in 20 minutes per day, 100 minutes per week, in PE.  But, if this new bill is passed, it would raise the amount of time spent in PE to 150 minutes per week.

If the bill is passed it wouldn't be enforced until 2009-2010.  One local PE teacher says it couldn't happen soon enough.  Ken Gray says it must become a priority to teach children to become more active on a daily basis.  He says times have changed, and schools must many varieties of physical activity.  "The PE classes need to be quality classes that teach lifetime activities and, teach the kids to be more active and healthy," he says.

Lawton Public School's Superintendent Barry Beauchamp agrees.  But, he says they would need to consider lengthening the school day if the bill passes.  "The truth of the matter is we have time requirements already, and of course you have other subject areas you have to cover," he says.  "If your going to add more in the physical education area you either do less some place else or you expand the school day."

The proposed legislation would require K-6 to participate in 150 minutes of physical education per week, and grades 7-8 would need 100 minutes.  Gray says the key is to get students moving, and have fun doing it.  "They don't realize they're getting stomach, upper body, lower body, workouts," he says.

Beauchamp says kids aren't only gaining weight at school, either.  He says there should be more community involvement in children's health, and parents must provide good nutrition at home.  He says although this is a good bill, it will be difficult to implement.  "Everything you do, there is a price or trade off," he says.  "We will either have to cut core instruction time to fit it in, or we will have to have the funding to expand the programs we offer.  So, we'll just have to wait and see what form the bill takes."