Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Getting Serious about Gym Class

Everything seems to come full circle. Back in 1990 school budget cuts in the state of Florida crippled an education system we took for granted. It used to be that all students in all grade levels had physical education (gym) classes every day. It used to be that all children had the opportunity to take art and/or music classes on a regular basis. It used to be that graduation requirements more than fulfilled a university's admission requirements. But we lost a lot in 1990, and now in an effort to regain some of that precious ground, we have to legislate things like P.E. in order to make sure kids get what they need.

I must admit that I never liked Gym class. It provided me with some painful memories. I was not an athlete by any stretch of the imagination, and I used to pray that I could just melt into that thickly varnished wood floor and disappear. Yet we moved every day. After hours confined to a classroom with very little wiggle room, gym class at least gave me a well deserved break from the pressure of the classroom.

Unfortunately, students in some elementary schools who do have gym class more often than others miss time in their academics in order to do so. It's a trade off and it shouldn't be. It's time to put the hour back into the school day that was taken away in 1990 to save money. This shouldn't be a gym vs. academics situation. We live a more sedentary lifestyle than any generation in history. Our children are heavier than any generation that came before. Childhood diabetes is at an all time high. And we're quibbling over money.

Isn't that always the way?

Lawmakers are looking for a solution. When you're asked to vote for what they come up with, consider the cost of not spending money on our children now. We either pay now or they will pay later.