Johnny’s Right to Be Fat and Stupid


wo recent actions by the McDonnell Administration raise questions about just how much state public education is being short-changed by el-cheapo spending practices.

First, Gov. Bob McDonnell vetoed a bill that would have expanded to 150 minutes a week the required physical education that children in lower and middle schools would get. The average now in some, not all, schools is about 90 minutes.

Secondly, after a firestorm of controversy over an errant history textbook, the Department of Education has required publishers, not teachers or administrators, to be responsible for fact-checking. The matter stemmed from a Connecticut publisher whose fourth-grade history book was riddled with factual errors and bad punctuation, stating, erroneously, that African-Americans fought by the thousands for the Southern the Civil War.

The stated reasons for not requiring PT are that many schools just don’t have the facilities to handle kickball, running, baseball or basketball. Many in the education bureaucracy did not want the bill for the same reasons, although legislators, including a doctor, thought it would do much to stem the childhood obesity problems that are running amok in Virginia and the rest of the nation.

Many school-age kids are far too tubby than they should be. They don’t exercise, drink sugary-super-sized sodas and fatty fast food and spend most of their time away from school in front of the Wii screen playing computer games.

Indeed, the right to be fat has been seized by some on the ultra-conservative circuit as a right equal to that of bearing arms or going to one’s own church. Any institution, such as the schools, that try to direct kids to a healthier lifestyle, incredibly, are dubbed socialist.

For evidence, tune into your local American Family Radio show and listen to how the right to eat a three-patty- thick-burger at Hardee’s is now an unalienable right. My wife, a teacher, found this out the hard way a couple of years ago when she gently suggested that maybe one child’s lunch his mother packed should not be merely an extra big biscuit covered with sausage gravy.

If parents and our culture are not going to get the children exercising, is it wrong to have the state do it? Apparently, according to libertarians who are wiling to die for their rights and have the kids die of diabetes.

The textbook case merely shifts “responsibility” for fact-checking to textbook publishers. Teachers do go to Richmond each year where for about $200 in pin money go over the books as for suitability. But can you depend on the publishers to fact-check?

Who knows and who cares, as long as the state doesn’t have to pay for it. That’s the silver-lining. Johnny and Janie can weigh 300 pounds and learn a lot of wrong stuff, but we get to save some pennies. The Virginia Way!

Peter Galuszka

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