P.O. Box 12068, State Capitol
Austin, Texas 78711
Tel. (512) 463-0112
Fax (512) 463-0923
BASIC HEALTH & EXERCISE IS FUNDAMENTAL
When I was a sixth-grade teacher, I always loved
when my students came back to my classroom from PE because they were alert and
ready to learn.
know what happens when students are stuck behind a desk all day. They get
restless. Their minds aren't focused on learning. Most importantly, it's
our students about nutrition. Ensuring they get daily exercise. These used to
be bedrocks of public education -- as fundamental as reading, writing &
today lead a very different lifestyle than prior generations. Many spend more
time on computers than they do playing outside. They have access to unhealthy
food. And if trends continue, an entire generation of young people will live
shorter lives than their parents.
than a third of Texas students are overweight, putting them at higher risk for
numerous chronic diseases, including heart disease. We are seeing in
adolescents the type of diabetes that used to only show up in middle age. And
if obesity trends continue, the costs for healthcare and productivity losses
could reach anywhere between $26 and $40 billion by 2040, almost four times the
8 hours every weekday, the State of Texas is responsible for 4.5 million young
Texans in our public school system. We must protect their health while they are
in our care.
this session I filed SB 530, which returns to the school day a strong focus on
basic health and exercise. I am proud to have 23 joint authors who helped this
legislation pass the Texas Senate in early April.
530 requires that our elementary and middle school students receive daily
exercise, allowing flexibility to schools with block scheduling. It requires
students in all grades to undergo fitness assessments once a year, starting
with the 07-08 school year.
summary of results from those assessments will be sent to the Texas Education
Agency, omitting individual student or teacher names to protect
confidentiality. And the results will allow our Commissioner of Education to
measure the relationship between the health of our students and their academic
performance, attendance, disciplinary problems, and other issues.
Commissioner will report the findings of her analysis each year on September 1,
giving us a true picture of the health of our students. We need a better
understanding of why so many of our students are struggling with basic health.
is the fourth session in a row I have filed legislation to improve the health
of students in Texas. Each session, there has been resistance. In 2001, I
introduced Senate Bill 19 requiring daily exercise for students K-12. To get
it passed, we had to limit it to elementary schools. In 2003, we filed SB 1357
requiring schools to compile a report making information regarding their
exercise and nutrition efforts public.
2005, I passed Senate Bill 42 expanding the daily physical exercise requirement
to middle schools. It passed, but in the rulemaking process, it was watered
down so much that, in effect, it was never implemented.
a former teacher, I am sensitive to the demands on our schools. I am also
sensitive who those who, like me, want to ensure that students receive a
well-rounded education that includes the basics as well as music and fine arts.
what could possibly be more important to the success of our young people than
their health? In education, there are fundamentals and there are electives.
Our health is fundamental -- a lesson we must teach our students.
Nelson represents District 12, which includes several communities in Tarrant
and Denton counties.