In Praise of Participation, Blog 9

by Lance Tapley
The Anti-Fan Blogger

Here it is — our long-promised draft legislation.

Although the “bill” below is only a suggestive outline or “concept draft” of a possible piece of federal legislation, it’s a start on what’s necessary to save the health of our children. Or, at least, go a long, long way toward that goal.

Literally, it’s a draft of the bill’s table of contents, with some explanatory notes. These notes are in far-from-legal language, although I’ve written some of them legal-like to summon the legislative spirit.

For the bill’s rationale, please see my previous eight blogs (my back-of-the-envelope financial rationale is in Blog No. 6). When passed, this legislation will not only affect our children, it’ll be beneficial to the health of the rest of the population and to the economy. For example, kids are likely to teach parents how to be fit, and health-care costs are likely to begin to decline quickly.

Notice that I refer to the bill as being introduced in Congress in 2015. Practically speaking, two years will be required to write the legislation, line up sponsors, and create the national publicity and political head of steam to secure passage.

But future efforts should not produce a bill a great deal longer than what I’ve written. The more lengthy and complex, the more legislators and lobbyists will fight over it, pull it apart, and adorn it with pet projects. The federal rule-making process that follows the passage of legislation can deal with the details. The bill should be simple and clear enough for the public and legislators to read and understand quickly.

And there’s no need for the final bill to require years of research and demonstration projects before Revolutionary PE gets going. As I’ve written, Naperville, Illinois, shows what can be done, and the relevant research on fitness and health is unambiguous. Every year delayed means many more people will die an early death and many more dollars will be spent on unnecessary medical care.

Nevertheless, two years are also needed to allow for the election of a new Congress. As a leading fitness lobbying group, the National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity, notes on its website, “The climate for physical activity legislation in the 112th Congress is challenging at best. The divided Congress and very strong feelings in the House that the budget be downsized mean that new programs and old alike all face a battle.”

But if the public’s extremely low opinion of our federal lawmakers continues through the 2014 elections, there will be a new and very different Congress. In any case, I’ll discuss the political prospects in a future blog.

A Bill

To enhance the physical and mental health of Americans and lessen health-care costs by greatly increasing and improving physical education in public schools.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

Section 1. Short title and table of contents.

(a) Short title.—This Act may be cited as the “Revolutionary Physical Education Act of 2015” or the “Revolutionary PE Act.”

(b) Table of contents.—The table of contents of this Act is as follows:

Sec. 1. Short title and table of contents.

Sec. 2. Definitions.

Here’s an example of a definition: The term “vigorous physical activity” means brisk walking, running, hiking, bicycling, swimming, cross-country skiing, ice skating, dancing, small-team basketball and soccer, circuit strength training, the use of exercise machines, and similar activities that primarily improve a child’s cardiovascular (aerobic) fitness but also other forms of physical fitness.

Sec. 3. Requirement for federal funds.

In order to obtain, directly or indirectly, federal funds for any purpose, public schools must comply with the requirements of this Act.

Sec. 4. Increased physical education (PE) time.

Each public elementary and secondary school shall provide at least one hour per school day of organized, vigorous physical activity for each pupil, of which at least 45 minutes shall be of cardiovascular (aerobic) exercise.

If for physical or mental reasons a child is unable to participate in vigorous physical activity, then the one hour per school day shall be used to prepare her or him for such activity in the future; or, if that proves impossible, the pupil shall be provided alternative health-enhancing activities.

In-class preparation time; fitness, health, and nutrition education; and administrative activity may not be counted toward the one-hour requirement.

Sports-team participation may not be substituted for the physical vigorous activity required for each child, unless one-hour-long, daily, documented vigorous physical activity is provided by the team to the child, including the cardiovascular (aerobic) requirement. Such substitution may be allowed for only half of an academic year. Team participation may not be substituted for fitness, health, and nutrition education.

Sec. 5. Improved physical education.

Vigorous, safe, and pleasurable physical (aerobic) activity in PE classes shall be tailored to the pupil’s needs, with an individual plan developed for each child that has practical, evidence-based goals for the gradual improvement of each boy’s and girl’s fitness, evaluated by heart-rate improvement, weight loss, and other scientifically measurable means.

A variety of activities shall be provided, depending on the school’s size and location, including the climate, with a priority given to outdoor activities. Scientifically proven technology, such as heart-rate monitors and pedometers, shall be used to measure student progress.

Sec. 6. School physical activity promotion outside PE classes.

Revolutionary PE funds shall also be used to increase and improve physical activity in other school time periods, with consideration given to before the start of school, before the start of each class, within classes, and before or after lunch breaks.

Sec. 7. Fitness, health, and nutrition education.

Revolutionary PE funds shall also be used to increase and improve fitness, health, and nutrition education in the schools, based on scientific knowledge. PE teachers shall have the primary responsibility as instructors.

Sec. 8. School councils.

A school’s Revolutionary PE program shall be administered by the school’s Revolutionary PE Council, composed of PE teachers, other educators, parents, older children, and community members. The council will promote the program, budget the funds, and evaluate the school’s performance. Existing school wellness committees may perform the functions of the councils, provided they have the composition required.

Sec. 9. National administration.

A Revolutionary Physical Education Administration (RPEA) shall be established within the Department of Education. It shall oversee the implementation and operation of the program, conduct research, develop and apply national goals and standards, and evaluate school performance.

Beginning no later than October 1, 2018, the Secretary of Education shall submit to Congress and the public an annual report on progress in meeting Revolutionary PE goals, including calculations on how program expenditures decrease health-care-system costs.

Sec. 10. Teacher training.

RPEA shall make grants to institutions of higher education for expanded, improved PE teacher training to meet the purposes of this Act.

Sec. 11. Authorization of Appropriation.

For the purpose of carrying out this Act, there are authorized to be appropriated to the Department of Education $6.5 billion for each of the fiscal years 2018 through 2022, as follows:

–$5.1 billion to subsidize the salary and employment benefits of approximately 100,000 new PE teachers.

–$800 million to subsidize state and local debt service to construct, equip, and improve school fitness centers, playing fields, tracks, and trails.

–$200 million for grants to institutions of higher education for increased and improved physical education teacher training.

–$200 million for school Revolutionary PE councils, including their public-education activities.

–$100 million for increased and improved fitness, health, and nutrition education in the schools.

–$100 million for the Revolutionary Physical Education Administration.

To fund each school, RPEA shall make grants to state departments of education, which in turn shall make grants to local governments, which shall directly fund a school’s Revolutionary PE program.

State and local governments shall distribute funds based upon each school’s and each community’s individual needs.

As of this Act’s enactment, funding shall not replace existing state or local funding for physical education facilities and equipment; fitness, health, and nutrition education; team sports; and teacher salaries and employment benefits.

Coming up, we will discuss the political landscape for this proposed legislation.

Lance Tapley is a guest blogger for League of Fans and a freelance writer based in Maine.


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