Are multiplication tables more important than our children's health? Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell seems to think so. He recently vetoed a bill that would have required all elementary and middle school students in Virginia to participate in 150 minutes of physical activity a week, in addition to recess.
The bill passed 37-2 in the Senate and 55-40 in the House, but Governor McDonnell had the final say. His concerns about funding simply point to a lack of political will to prioritize children's health. Further concerns about more P.E. impeding academic performance are unfounded, as countless studies have proven that physical activity actually boosts classroom performance.
Please join us in encouraging McDonnell to increase access to physical activity for Virginia's children. Learn more at Huffington Post.
- Virginia Governor
I am writing to express my grave disappointment over your recent veto of the bill to require more physical activity in Virginia's elementary and middle schools. Passing the bill would have demonstrated to the people of Virginia that the state is serious about children's health, and the reality of implementation would have lent urgency to a problem that we as a country have let languish for far too long.
In regards to your concerns about funding, in Virginia, 24 percent of children are on Medicaid and one in three is overweight or obese. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Virginia has the 14th-highest obesity-related health care costs in the 50 states. Clearly, the childhood obesity epidemic is already costing the Virginia government a significant chunk of money--so why refuse to invest money in a long-term solution?
You have stated that "kids need to get off the couch and away from the computer and onto a soccer field or basketball court." Isn't this bill explicitly about getting kids onto the soccer field or basketball court? The government cannot control what children choose to do in their free time, but it can inspire a passion for sports and physical activity by ensuring that kids have sufficient time to play soccer, basketball, and other games during school hours.
Furthermore, many recent studies prove that physical activity and recess actually boost student performance in the classroom. In April 2010, USA Today reported on a government review of research showing that "increased time in PE classes can help children's attention, concentration and achievement test scores."
I sincerely hope that you will prioritize outdoor physical activity for the sake of our children's health and well-being during the remainder of your term.
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