Home Education Bob McDonnell Vetoes Mandatory Physical Education Bill

Bob McDonnell Vetoes Mandatory Physical Education Bill


I’ve gotta agree with Bob McDonnell (and the Virginia Education Association, and many other education groups) on this one:

Governor Bob McDonnell has vetoed legislation (SB 966) that would force local school districts to provide 150 minutes of physical education per week for all students in elementary and middle school by the year 2014. The state mandate was strongly opposed by local school districts and teachers concerned about the financial impact of its implementation.

Speaking about his decision Governor McDonnell noted, “In my Inaugural Address I stated very clearly that Washington does not always know better than Richmond, and, equally, that Richmond does not always know better than Fairfax or Galax. I have long opposed significant unfunded mandates passed from one level of government to another. Thus, I cannot in good conscience sign this legislation.”

While the objective of this legislation is laudable, the proposed means of accomplishment is problematic.  Education officials advised me that this measure would cost them tens of millions of dollars

Bottom line: I would have  supported this legislation if the General Assembly also had voted to lengthen the school day/year in order to compensate for the extra time students would spend on physical education, AND also if they had appropriated funds to pay for doing so. But they didn’t do either of those things, which makes this an unfunded mandate on schools and localities, forcing them to hire more teachers and/or expand facilities, without providing them the resources to do so. That, in turn, would have meant that schools would have been forced to cut back elsewhere — music, art, instruction time, whatever — in order to make room in their schedules and budgets for the unfunded mandate. That’s not acceptable, and that’s not right. So…hopefully not for the last time let me say, “thank you Bob McDonnell for vetoing this bill.”

P.S. Based on the House and Senate vote totals, it doesn’t appear that McDonnell’s veto will be overridden.  

  • I like to say positive things about government when I can, and I agree with Mcdonnell on this one.  There were ways that this might have worked, but not the way it was decided upon in the legislature.

  • pontoon

    our children to have PE everyday in school, but as cash strapped as local school districts are today, adding an unfunded mandate to the mix is irresponsible.  It’s scary to say, but I actually agree with Bob McDonnell.  SCARY.

  • George Jefferson Davis

    Why is everyone buying into his framing on this? This is no more a mandate than any other educational requirement is an unfunded mandate. 4 years of math is an undue burden!

    Bob’s got no problem telling local school districts how they should conduct their business (charter schools, budget cuts) and this is just a way to build up a little capital with the school leadership.

    He sided with them on the little stuff (phys ed) so he can screw them on the big stuff (state funding.)  

  • independent in arlington

    I agree with Lowell that implementation of this bill would have likely meant less time for art and music (not sure it would have needed to cost more money).  In my judgment, it still would have been the correct choice.  My 3rd grader only gets PE once every three days, probably an average of 75 minutes a week.  If we want our children to grow up with a culture of exercise/movement, there is no better way to do this than at school.  I think it would, in the long run, produce a more fit – and presumably healthier population, which benefits everyone.

  • Va Breeze

    I understand the “unfunded” part but the state has no trouble mandating other requirements without funds.

    How are kids to learn about a healthy lifestyle when they don’t get any exercise?

  • clark

    based on the number of comments here, this starts a good debate and discussion. I was at Kemore Middle School last week to hear President Obama’s address on “Winning the Future”/ Reforming No Child Left Behind. NCLB has made us all familiar with issues that this touches on- unfunded mandates, adding requirements, etc. to local school systems, etc. At the same time, President Obama and his wife have made it a priority to address childhood obesity. I can tell you from coaching soccer at a high school for seven years, there is a real issue in our schools with health and fitness. This has implications across society- the Healthy-Hunger Free Kids Act was supported by dozens of top military officers and even had folks like Huckabee coming to the First Lady’s defense.

    Now, President Obama in his address last week said he’s asking Congress to deliver him a comprehensive education bill that he can sign before kids go back to school this fall that will fund education properly and have the right mix of metrics, etc. to gauge progress. I hope Governor McDonnell does the same- fully fund our state’s schools and on issues like this one find a path forward that is funded, makes sense, and ulimately addresses a real problem that legislators from both parties have agreed needs attention.