Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Playground Bill

I'm surprised that The Perdue Team has time to govern. They seem much more interested in micro-managing Georgia classrooms.

Today, the Georgia Senate passed yet another unfunded mandate for local school systems. SB 474 (The Playground Bill) will require systems to focus significant resources (time and money) on physical education. Compliance with this bill may well require longer school days and may require that school systems spend more money hiring PE teachers.

Yes, boys and girls, four in ten of our ninth graders disappear before graduation, and we can predict future need for prison bedspace by looking at 3rd grade reading scores, yet, our priority is to make sure our kids get enough exercise. Where, exactly, are our priorities?

Why isn't making sure children get enough exercise the responsibility of parents?

I don't know about you, but am all for promoting healthy kids, and all for including PE in academic programs, but the primary, uncompromising focus of our schools should be academic achievement. It appears that the Perdue Team is much more interested in athletics.
With Perdue's priorities, Georgia's going to have a great football team, but Johnny won't learn how to read.

Like some of the other education legislation, this bill, at first blush, sounds great- let's make sure our kids get more exercise. But again, like SB 390, the devil is in the the details.

Among other things, this bill requires teacher training in the area of Physical Education, but provides no funds for such training, and remember, teacher training is excluded from the precious 65% mandate.

Plus, the bill requires that children, depending on grade level have between 150 and 225 minutes of PE each week and that this require physical exertion of "moderate to vigorous" intensity. ( I wonder who's going to police the "moderate to vigorous" requirement? Seriously, I am trying to imagine a 5K teacher make Frankie run instead of walk.)
Already, in Georgia, school systems have very little flexibility with regard to academic curriculum. The state prescribes how much of the day will be spent. Compliance with existing requirements, and with this new mandate may well require longer school days.
Politicians don't tell doctors how to do heart surgery, because, thank God, they do not (yet) think that they are experts on heart surgery. Please tell me, why do politicians think they are qualified to tell educators how to run schools?


Lisa said...

Thanks for the update on the playground bill. Gov. Perdue's wrongheaded approach to the schools is enough to make one scream. And though I'm an advocate for more exercise for kids, I'm more interested in local flexibility. I don't want my children to have more structured P.E.. I want them to have recess. Due to the strict, tight schedule required to meet the standards and testing schedules, my elementary aged children go to a school where recess is a once a week reward - IF and only IF the weather is dry, not windy, over 72 degrees and sunny AND the award hasn't been revoked as punishment. This comes on top of a busy, rushed day that includes a lunchtime where socializing is not permitted and the teachers must sit and eat with the children to maintain strict control.
Perhaps making school seem like prison is why so many kids drop out (message: learning is no fun and school is a drag) and why so many might be comfortable in the prison system. They're well-trained for having their lives completely controlled.

What a rant! Where does the State Board of Ed stand on all of this?

Amy Morton said...

Very good points. I wonder if teachers realize that the provision requiring them to be trained means that they're going to be teaching PE on days the official PE teacher is not there. I wonder if some are under the impression that this will provide them with a planning period each day? If so, I think they're wrong.

eastcobber45 said...

This will also probably mean the death of daily music classes (band and orchestra) in middle school. with all of the required classes there is only one elective period per day. PE would take that so there goes band.