Middle School PE in Legislative Bull’s-eye

Middle School students in Florida must take a required three hours of physical education each week. The requirement was put into law to combat obesity, but tight budgets have some lawmakers looking at ending required PE.

This middle school P.E. class has been keeping track of what they had to eat and any exercise they did outside of class for the last week. Coach Dickie Hosford says it is a way to make kids think twice about their lifestyle. “They put down their meals, they’re supposed to put down how many calories they were. We’re showing them nutrition facts, how to find it, where to find it.”

Since 2008, middle schoolers in Florida have been required to take at least one P.E. class a day for half a year. But legislation to end required PE has passed at least one committee.

The legislation’s sponsor, Rep. Larry Metz of Lake County says it’s not about whether or not exercise or P.E. is good or bad, but about mandating it during tight budget years. “I don’t think parents get a pass for the health and welfare of their students. I think they’re primarily responsible for that.”

Governor Rick Scott says he hasn’t seen the bill. The Governor says he is skeptical. He works out most mornings before work. “I mean, I like to exercise. It makes you healthier, it makes you think better. So I think it’s the right thing to do.”

And back at the middle school, Coach Hosford says he has seen PE make a real difference in kids’ lives. “The kids need to learn it early so it becomes a habit. If it doesn’t become a habit early on, then we know you develop bad habits.”

This is the second year in a row the legislation to kill required PE has been filed, but it the first time the bill has even gotten a hearing.

The Senate President, whose wife is a physician, has also expressed doubts about ending mandatory physical education.

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