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S302 Marching Band Bill Followup – Amended Bill Passes General Assembly

S302 passed the House and Senate last Thursday afternoon as the 2nd session of the 122nd General Assembly came to a close. If you recall, S302 allows students who participate in marching band to waive the physical education class required for graduation.

I voted against this bill for the following reasons:

Students need thoughtful physical education in school.

Allowing marching band students to count their participation toward the “physical” part of physical education makes perfect sense  – if it were included in an updated comprehensive curriculum that integrates physical exercise, nutrition and health to teach life-long habits. Students involved in other rigorous school athletic programs could also take advantage of satisfying the “physical” requirements.

S301 did not attempt to strengthen our current physical education, nutrition and health curriculum.  Instead, the Senate passed a bill that carved out an exception for band members and did not address other problems with the curriculum that non-band member students still face. These problems, such as the effectiveness of virtual PE class, were even laughed about during committee testimony.

Parents should not have to hire lobbyists to bring changes to the school curriculum.

The Statehouse lobby teems with lobbyists hired by a wide variety of groups to monitor and promote their positions as bills are passed. Now we can add another group that has successfully used a lobbyist – groups formed by those looking out for the interests of students participating in specific school sponsored activities for the purpose of changing statewide curriculum to suit them.

I don’t blame the parents. They did what they thought was best for their child. As a parent, I fully support their right to do so.

I merely ask why this issue could not have been handled with their local school board or the state Department of Education?

A lot of time, effort, money and political maneuvering was consumed to have this bill passed – the kind of effort that could have gone into a physical education reform bill.