CNN has the news that Tennessee is going to make gym mandatory five days per week for its public school students. They're doing it, they say, to address the rampant obesity among even the youngest students.
I have a simpler solution. It's called RECESS. How about schools reinstate THAT instead of creating yet another bureaucratic, red tape machine that, in this case, doesn't really do students any more good than letting them play outside for 30 or 40 minutes a day?
And it wouldn't hurt if schools stopped selling nutritionally horrid lunches, either. In my local elementary school, pizza is available every day. That means a kid who's on a subsidized lunch plan or whose parents send her to school with lunch money every day can eat pizza five days a week. And nobody cares.
So first schools do away with recess entirely or reduce it to a meaninglessly short period of time, like ten minutes, then they pile up the lunch menu with calorie- and fat-laden foods, and then they wonder why the kids are gaining too much weight. Naturally, their solution is to make yet another "standard" that has to be tracked and reported for each child and that requires hiring additional teachers, rather than just letting the kids run around on the playground every day.
According to the article, in one school the morning gym activity is to jump rope for 30 minutes. I realize that jumping rope is good exercise. But 30 minutes for ten-year-olds? Unless the teacher lets the kids play jump rope together and have fun with it, you can basically put another notch in the usually-fun-activities-that-school-sucked-the-ever-loving-life-out-of bedpost.
The people in Tennessee seem perplexed that they have to make gym mandatory in order for schools to offer PE classes to their students. Well, duh. Schools are being measured by only one criterion — yearly performance on standardized tests. They have cut out damn near everything that doesn't directly map to those tests. In Tennessee and across the US, the over-emphasis on standards and high stakes testing has shut down PE classes and recess and art and music and all sorts of other school activities because those things don't show up as questions on a state mandated test.