Proposed law would double phy-ed requirement for Minnesota students

There's a plan at the Capitol to get kids into more phy-ed classes at schools, but not all lawmakers support it.

The reason? For one, it's another mandate from the state, and secondly, at the high school level it would limit students in the number of other electives and college prep classes they could take.

Sen. Susan Kent (D-Woodbury) sponsors the bill, which would double the required phy-ed classes for Minnesota students from one credit to two.

"It's important for them to build skills and knowledge about the future of wellness," Kent says. "And then it gets them moving, and [what] research has shown us over and over again is that when kids move they actually learn better when they are in the classroom."

The bill is also about obesity. A just-released student survey of more than 35,000 Minnesota 9th graders shows 22 percent of boys and 18 percent of girls report body dimensions that are overweight.

But at a Senate hearing today, critics argued Kent's bill restricts students from taking fine arts classes or college prep courses.

Grace Keliher of the Minnesota School Boards Association says, "The two credit requirement -- my question is, would that stop a kid from graduating from high school?"

"Do we actually have to say, if you failed that... you can't graduate?" she continues. "Those are big things for folks to consider at the local level."

One of Kent's fellow lawmakers says school districts needs to have options.

"Without flexibility, I am not going to vote for another mandate," Sen. Bill Weber (R-Luverne) says.

For her part, Kent says she's willing to tweak her bill to add in some flexibility as it moves through the legislative process.

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