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Mandatory Phys. Ed. Bill Ruffles Feathers, Continues Advancing in Virginia

Virginia is one step away from becoming the latest state to make physical education for K-8 students mandatory, as the House of Delegates passed a revised version of the proposed legislation this past Friday. It now heads to Gov. Bob McDonnell, who hasn't declared whether or not he'll sign the bill, according to the Virginian-Pilot.

Currently, the state mandates physical education for K-7 students, but only requires students to receive 150 minutes of physical activity per week, according to the "2010 Shape of the Nation"Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader report by the National Association of Sport and Physical Education. Under the current state law, "physical activity" can be defined as physical education classes, after-school sports, or any other physical activities that the local school board deems appropriate.

The proposed bill calls for students to receive 150 minutes of physical education per week, and extracurricular activities would not count toward the required 150 minutes/week. If passed, the bill wouldn't take effect until the 2014-15 school year.

That type of phys. ed. expansion naturally means increased costs for school districts. And in an economic era where Congress is considering heavy budget cuts to education, this bill has been a tough sell to some local school officials in Virginia, according to the Fredricksburg Free Lance-Star.

Del. Dave Albo of Fairfax County told the Free Lance-Star that it will cost an estimated $8 million/year to meet the requirements in his district.

"My e-mail has been lit up about this from my constituents, some things that they were pointing out that we didn't discuss last time," Albo said to the Free Lance-Star.

Others are more concerned with the impact the mandatory phys. ed. classes will have on other subjects.

"If physical education becomes a required subject in all grades, it will have unintended negative consequences for Virginia's public schools," Orange County school board member Jim Hopkins told the Free Lance-Star. "Without extending the school day, more physical education means less of something else."

Hopkins wasn't the only one opposed to the bill for this reason; the Virginia Education Association (the state's teachers' union) also opposed it due to its future impact on schools' arts programs, according to the Virginian-Pilot.

After the House passed the original bill on a 65-31 vote back on Feb. 1, the most recent version passed by a vote of 55-40, which would suggest the bill has lost some favor in the past two weeks. Regardless, it's now out of the House's hands and off to Gov. McDonnell's desk to potentially be signed into law.

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