(MURFREESBORO) The State Board of Education (SBOE) unanimously voted to revise the policies for elementary physical education to provide all children: at least two days per week of instructional physical education, not less than 60 minutes of physical education per week, and physical education taught by a licensed physical education professional. These are the components of the Tom Cronan Elementary Physical Education Act (The Cronan Act).
The Cronan Act was originally passed by the Tennessee Legislature and was signed into law by Governor Bill Haslam in the spring of 2018.
Then State Senator and now Rutherford County Mayor Bill Ketron, a major sponsor of the Cronan Act, noted, “The act was named for the late husband of Joan Cronan; the former athletic director for UT Knoxville. Her late husband, Tom, was a physical education teacher, so the two shared a passion for the subject.”
Ketron’s biggest motivation for supporting the bill was the alarming statistic of Tennessee being, at the time, third in the nation for childhood obesity according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Today, Tennessee is #1 in the nation for childhood obesity!
Ketron worked with groups such as the Tennessee Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (TAHPERD) and the group’s Chair for Legislation/Advocacy Fran Hoogestraat to push for more physical education in elementary schools. Hoogestraat acknowledged just how instrumental Ketron’s assistance was in the progress made over the years.
“We worked long and hard to get support from our local and state legislators,” said Fran. “The legislators were a joy to work with; Senator Ketron used his great wisdom to bring people together. We marveled at his mastery as an elected official.”
The Cronan Act was slated to be implemented in the Fall of 2019 with the exception of two school districts that were to begin in the fall of 2020. Because of a late amendment in the legislative session of 2019, implementation was delayed for all elementary schools until the 2020-21 school year.
Prior to the SBOE meeting, more than 50 schools had submitted requests for waivers from The Cronan Act. The SBOE discussed the importance of physical education for children and reviewed the requests for waivers. Waivers were denied for less than 2 times per week and less than 60 minutes per week of instructional physical education. One-year waivers will be granted for the requirement of a licensed physical education professional as the teacher of the instructional program.
In Hoogestraat’s words, “In about one to two weeks, all elementary schools in Tennessee will be required to have two days per week of physical education. It’s finally happening…thanks to a lot of people, and most notably Senator Ketron, it is finally coming to fruition.”
Hoogestraat could not be happier. “This is a HUGE win for those of us who have worked for years to highlight the importance of physical education.”
Mayor Ketron added, “The real winners are our elementary students who will now have the opportunity to receive the fundamental foundation for movement skills that serve as the building blocks for physical activity and sports.”