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Bring gym classes back to schools

    Unless you are among the 30 percent of residents with a child enrolled in the Corvallis public schools, you might not know that gym class — as we who graduated from high school at least 15 years ago know it — has gone the way of the rotary dial phone. Most Oregon K-12 students either don’t have regular gym class or have just an hour a week, which strikes us as a dead-end route to fitness.

    Physical education was cut from many districts between 1991 and 1994 during budget cuts after 1990’s Measure 5 property tax limitation dried up a sizeable part of the K-12 funding pool. Sporadic efforts to enact wellness education have done little to slow the steady increase in childhood obesity rates.

    Now three bills jostling to make it through as the Legislature begins crowding toward adjournment would begin a decade-long process to bring back gym class: Senate Bill 367 would enable the Department of Education to tally up just how much physical education students are getting in school. SB 379 would enable the DOE to assess how well those gym programs are working. Finally, SB 370 would return 150 minutes a week of PE for kindergarten-through-fifth-graders and 225 minutes a week for middle schoolers.

     — Excerpt from the Corvallis Gazette-Times Editorial, May 1, 2007


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