Bill mandating elementary gym class up for hearing - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: Parents, students support elementary gym class bill

Posted: Updated: Jan 29, 2014 6:40 PM CST

MADISON, Wisconsin (WKOW) -- An assembly committee heard public comments Wednesday on a bill that would alter physical education standards in public schools.

Wisconsin public schools are currently required to provide three days of physical activity to students through fifth grade.

State law does not specify how long those gym classes should last.

Rep. Chad Weininger (R-Green Bay) wants to boost those standards to five days of physical activity per week for 30 minutes each day.

Weininger has authored a bill calling for the changes, which is now before the assembly's committee on children and families.

"This will be the first generation where our kids live shorter lives than their parents," Weininger said during a public hearing Wednesday.

His proposal was met with enthusiasm from students at Van Hise Elementary and their parents. The school currently provides three days of physical education to students each week.

"That would be cool," said student Grace Croft. She added she likes gym class "a lot." and enjoys class activities like rollerblading and soccer.

Grace's mother Donita said she thinks five days of physical education each week is a good idea.

"I think it gives (the kids) a break from sitting," she said. "It helps them stretch out, get moving and then they can concentrate better later."

Parent Erica Elsdon concurred.

"Especially in Wisconsin with winter being so harsh and the kids not having a chance to be outside," Elsdon said, "I think it's great for them to be able to have more active time."

Weininger's proposal was met with some resistance from members of the children and families committee who said the bill does not provide schools with money needed to expand their physical education programs.

But Weininger said the bill allows schools to be flexible. For instance, he said, the gym classes do not need to be taught by a physical education teacher. Weininger said that should allow schools to minimize costs.

The state's department of public instruction said Monday it was not able to estimate the cost of Weininger's proposals since physical education policies vary from one school district to the next.

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MADISON (WKOW) -- A bill with bipartisan support that would require elementary students in Wisconsin to get at least half an hour of daily physical education is up for a hearing.

The Assembly Children and Families Committee planned a hearing Wednesday on the bill introduced by Republican Rep. Chad Weininger, of Green Bay.

Current law requires physical education three times a week for an unspecified amount of time. The daily gym class requirement was dropped in the late 1980s.

Weininger's bill would apply to students in kindergarten through fifth grade. It has the support of a wide array of health groups, including the American Cancer Society and the Wisconsin Public Health Association.

Data from the state Department of Health Services shows that one in four Wisconsin adolescents are overweight or obese.

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