This past session one of the issues that has made the most noise and will have a lasting impact on public schools this fall is the elimination of health education. House Bill 3 by State Rep. Rob Eissler (R-The Woodlands) and State Senator Florence Shapiro was a piece of legislation that was over 200 plus pages. This piece of legislation addressed the accountability of schools for the education of Texas students. One small section made a major difference in the balanced education of Texas students and will impact the struggle we continue to address with childhood obesity.
The bill included language to change the high school graduation requirements from 1.5 credits of physical education to 1.0 credits of physical education. At first there were no more requirements for physical education but thanks to the advocacy efforts of the American Heart Association and action by the You’re the Cure network we were able to restore at least 1.0 credits of physical education. Unfortunately, HB 3 also eliminated the health education requirement of 0.5 credits. Fine arts graduation requirement was expanded from 0.5 to 1.0 credit. The implementation of this graduation plan is to begin with the 2009-10 school year.
School districts may still set the requirements for high school graduation that they want their students to achieve. A district may require their students to take the number of credits of physical education and health education their school board and community want them to take. The state requirement is a minimum standard. School districts may require more for their students.
Currently there are still some regulatory efforts that are under consideration at the Texas State Board of Education and the Texas Education Agency that the Advocacy Department will be addressing. Stay tuned as we unveil our Advocacy efforts at the regulatory level over the next few weeks to try and salvage what is left of physical and health education.