W.Va. exercise bill raises questions

While the health of West Virginians is always of great importance, a bill proposed by the majority leader of the state Senate is taking those concerns in the wrong direction.

Majority Leader John Unger, D-Berkeley, has proposed legislation that would require a half-hour of moderate exercise daily during school.

We understand the desire to encourage exercise in our schools, and existing physical education programs certainly contribute to such encouragement, but this proposal could be crossing some lines and we suggest the state’s lawmakers look carefully before moving this forward.

Officials have said the exercise doesn’t have to be a continuous 30 minutes, just as long as a total of 30 minutes takes place during the school day.

More physical activity is fine, but this proposed requirement would take away from instructional time – even if only for a few minutes here and there.

In his State of the State Address, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin stressed the importance of focusing on the development of math and science skills in the state’s classrooms. Isn’t five minutes of exercise in the classroom also five minutes not working on the development of those math and science skills?

Besides, shouldn’t it be up to those who know the individual child better – say their parents, teachers and medical professionals – to determine what type of activity would be better for their health?

We recognize the concern of our legislators for the future of our youth, but warn against them pushing too far in determining how their lives are led.