Senate Bill 0263 has been introduced by Senator Dennis Kruse. The first section provides a new section to the Indiana Code, IC 20-19-3-6.5, which requires that the Indiana Department of Education [DOE] to establish a program in health and physical education to meet certain criteria. Specifically for students, these are to encourage children in kindergarten through grade 12 to develop healthful living habits, an interest in lifetime health and physical fitness, and decision making skills in the areas of health and physical fitness. Specifically for school administration, these are to establish the position of education consultant for health and physical education, and to hire an individual to perform the duties of education consultant for health and physical education.
The education consultant for health and physical education shall plan and develop curricula for health and physical education for kindergarten through grade 12, provide assistance to school corporations in developing and carrying out the requirements of the new section requiring 30 minutes of physical education, and perform other duties designated by the department.
The program in health and physical education must include local school program development, technical and inservice training assistance for local schools, local school initiatives in writing curricula in the areas of health and physical education, and cardiopulmonary resuscitation training using a training program approved by the American Heart Association or an equivalent nationally recognized training program. The DOE may give grants to or enter into contracts with individuals or school corporations to carry out the purposes of the program in health and physical education.
The second section amends IC 20-30-2-2 to increase the student instructional day in grades one through six by 30 minutes to at least five hours and thirty minutes of instructional time. Except as provided the student instructional day in grades seven through 12 will increase by 30 minutes to at least six hours and thirty minutes.
The third section provides a new section to the Indiana Code, IC20-30-5-21, which sets the parameters of the additional 30 minutes of instructional time for physical education to the school day. It applies to public schools which includes charter schools. Beginning with the 2015-2016 school year, a school shall conduct at least thirty minutes of physical education each regular school day for kindergarten through grade 12. The physical education may be divided into two periods of fifteen minutes or longer. These may be included as a part of a classroom activity and must consist of activities that are appropriate to a participant's age and physical and mental abilities, raise a participant's heart rate, and provide strength and endurance training.
The final section is a new section to the Indiana Code, IC20-34-3-21, for the purpose of collecting data and monitoring student performance. Beginning in the 2015-2016 school year, each school corporation and charter school shall collect and record the height, weight, ethnicity, age, and sex of students in the following grades one, six, and twelve. The school corporation or charter school shall report annually the information collected to the state department of health. A school corporation or charter school shall inform in writing the parent of a student that the information concerning the student was collected and that the parent may obtain the information upon request from the school. The data collected will not be maintained in a manner that correlates it to a particular student when reported. Schools will be required tomfollow written procedures designed to ensure privacy for the students when being measured. The data collected under this section may not be recorded on a child's report card, a child's transcript, or another document from which an individual other than the child's parent or school personnel could determine the identity of the child. The state department of health shall publish and make available to the public an annual report summarizing data collected about student health. The state department of health shall develop materials for school corporations and charter schools to distribute that include an explanation of body mass index, the limitations of body mass index as a measure and, the need to interpret body mass index on an individual basis.
This is a great step toward reversing the deliberate actions by some school corporations that contribute to student’s academic, physiological, and psychological decline. The funding incentives for designating students as having psychological disorders is a likely contributor to these decisions which often include eliminating recess and physical education. In 2011 when I wrote Why Students should NOT place primary importance on Academic Achievement I was responding to the harmful effects that I had observed in students from these policies. Ignoring well-being in place of emphasizing academic achievement is the common error of treating a symptom rather than the condition. In that post I detailed the nexus between physical fitness and psychological condition and academic performance of students. There is a direct correlation between well-being and academic achievement. Hindering a student from attaining greater well-being hinders academic improvement. Yet, schools actively resist those caution.
Ensuring that the materials and activities collected or produced for instruction to students is not corrupted will be the key element to the efficacy of this effort. This legislation seeks to inform students and then allow them to make decisions based upon their preferences. This is a welcomed change from the ethos which has for so long sought to restrict knowledge and impose proscriptions or mandates rather than foster individual liberty.
There is no knowledge of greater importance than that of the body and its healthful maintenance. This should, first and foremost, be the duty of parents. But in a society ravaged by the effects of divorce and parents who shun their responsibilities this obligation must also fall upon the schools. Some proponents of adverse student health and other profiteers argue that it is not the place of schools to instruct children on matters that are not academic in nature. They understand that the wellness of children dramatically reduces the opportunities for financial gain from treating or responding to adverse health. It is incumbent upon those of us who endorse wellness for children to remonstrate the dubious claims of such well financed and nefarious parties.
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