Allow me first to paint a mental picture for you. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Indiana is ranked as the country’s eighth most obese state. About 16 percent of adolescents are considered overweight and roughly 14 percent of young children are obese. Currently, there are no standardized Physical Education (PE) requirements statewide. In fact, there are schools across Indiana that neither offer recess nor PE to their students.
Enter State Senator Dennis Kruse. Kruse is sponsoring a bill that would require 30 minutes of physical activity each day for Indiana students in grades K-12. Kruse said he didn’t want to sacrifice other subjects, so the bill would expand the school day by 30 minutes to make room for the extra fitness time.
As many districts are already facing tight budgets and spending cuts, Kruse warns that he can see the cost of expanding the school day becoming an issue for the bill moving forward. We hear this concern all time and while warranted to a degree, we know that if there is a will there is a way. Some of the highest performing expanded-time schools in the country, faced with similar predicaments, have found ways to expand their schedule to strengthen core subjects AND allow time for things like PE and recess.
A couple of weeks ago my colleague wrote on this very topic of “how can we afford more time?”. Flexible scheduling and the use of community partners are just a couple of cost-effective ways states and districts can think about redesigning their school day. Moving forward, we hope that policy leaders in Indiana will thoughtfully consider this important bill. The students of Indiana depend on it. Stay tuned!