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Mandatory Physical Education Bill Advances in Virginia

Last week, I touched on the subject of whether physical education classes should be required in schools, as the Virginia Senate had just passed legislation that would make phys. ed. mandatory in all state public schools.

Today, Virginia took the next step toward making mandatory physical education a reality.

The House of Delegates voted 65-31 on Tuesday to approve legislation that would require K-8 students to get an average of at least 150 minutes of phys. ed. per week. This comes after the House Education Committee voted to advance the bill to the full House last week. The legislation, if signed into law, won't come into effect until the 2014-15 school year.

The Virginia Statehouse News gathered some delegates' reaction to the legislation—both pro and con—after the House Education Committee voted to advance the bill last week.

"We have a major, major problem with obesity in this country. You can go into any school building and see kids that are 'chunky Joes' and just unbelievably overweight kids," said Delegate Bob Tata, a Republican.

"It's hard to be against physical education, I don't think anybody is. ... I think at this point we are just attempting to put too much in a confined period of time, and some things which are truly academic are going to potentially going to lose out, and I have that concern," said Delegate Tom Rust, also a Republican.

Is mandatory phys. ed. worth the added costs and time constraints if schools can reduce the number of "chunky Joes?" Once the two chambers hammer out the differences in their bills, Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican, Gov. Tim Kaine, a Democrat, will be facing that very question. (Thanks to reader Joe Y. for pointing out the correction. The author regrets the error.)

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