by David Safier
Steve Gall has spent years advocating for daily exercise for school kids, which numerous studies indicate increases classroom attention and achievement at the same time it promotes better health. Ironically, the increased stress caused by the need to get high standardized test scores has meant less time for children to exercise their bodies as well as their minds at school.
Gall is a retired teacher with a doctorate in physical education. He volunteers in Tucson schools and has spent years advocating locally and state-wide for daily exercise. He’s worked with Republicans in the legislature, including Frank Antenori and John Huppenthal, getting them to sponsor legislation, but the bills didn’t get far.
Gall’s attempt this session looked like it might make it. Working with Republican Rep. Paul Boyer, he helped put together HB2539, which would create a task force to “examine, evaluate and make recommendations concerning the best practices for educating and encouraging physical activity in Arizona schools.” It passed the House on a 40-15 vote, but it was held in the Senate Education Committee by Republican Chairperson Kimberly Yee, which effectively killed it.
Gall expressed disappointment and frustration over his attempts to work with the majority Republicans to craft legislation that would get the needed votes in both houses. “The common denominator here is the Republicans who have blocked this initiative time and time again,” Gall said. “Their excuse is they don’t want the state to tell the districts what to do. However they do tell the schools what to teach.”
Gall says he’s working to elect Superintendent of Public Instruction candidate David Garcia, who Gall says fully supports an initiative for daily physical activity.
UPDATE: I was contacted by a member of the Senate majority staff who deals with the media. He was asked by Sen. Kimberly Yee to respond to my statement in this post that Yee killed HB2539 by holding it in the Senate Education Committee. According to Yee, she was asked to strike the bill by its sponsor, Rep. Paul Boyer. I haven't reached out to Boyer for a response.