CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
H.R. 1585 is being considered on the floor on Wednesday, April 21, 2010, under a suspension of the rules requiring a two-third majority vote for passage. This legislation was introduced by Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) on May 14, 2009. The bill was referred to the Committee on Education and Labor, which took no official action.
H.R. 1585 would require every local educational agency to post on the Internet information on "healthful eating habits, physical education, and physical activity" within one year of enactment. Under the legislation, the information must include:
The bill would also require local educational agencies to assist each school in the agency's district in disseminating information to parents and families on:
H.R. 1585 would require state educational agencies to post the same information within 15 days of the local educational agencies posting their information.
In addition, the legislation would require the Secretary of Education, through a contract with the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences, to examine and report recommendations on ways to incorporate physical activity into after school activities, effective ways to increase physical activity for all students, and efforts to encourage participation of students with disabilities.
The bill would require a national fitness study to examine the participation of students in physical education. Within 180 days of enactment, the Secretary of Education would be required to disseminate best practices to state and local educational agencies on innovative physical education policies. Finally, the bill would require the Secretary to encourage schools to participate in the USDA's HealthierUS School Challenge.
According to finding listed in the bill, childhood obesity has reached "epidemic" levels and obesity-related diseases cost the economy $117 billion every year. Since 1974, the incidence of overweight children has increased from 4 percent to 17.5 percent in 2004. Under current law, the standard for physical education frequency is 150 minutes per week in elementary school and 225 minutes per week in middle school and high school. However, the bill's finding state that 3.8 percent of elementary schools, 7.9 percent of middle schools, and 2.1 percent of high schools provide daily physical education or its equivalent for the entire school year, and 22 percent of schools do not require students to take any physical education at all.
This bill would place new mandates on local school districts and state education agencies to distribute information about physical well being and physical education activities to parents and families of students. Among the requirements in the bill is a mandate that local school districts compile and disseminate information on healthy eating and physical activity habits. While a CBO score showing the estimated costs of these mandates is not available, the requirements could force already cash-strapped local school districts to use scarce funds on federally ordered health information circulation rather than other educational expenditures.
A CBO score for H.R. 1585 was not available as of press time.