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Middle school education bill advances

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Photo of Representative Pittman, AnastasiaThis came through the House today:

State Rep. Anastasia A. Pittman said today that health education is the best way to prevent some of the most common afflictions of the day such as heart disease, substance abuse and diabetes.

“We can’t afford to ignore the opportunity we have in public schools to educate our young people about healthy diets, exercise, drugs and other health concerns so that they can begin healthy habits that will benefit them for their entire lives and reduce health care costs,” said Pittman, D-Oklahoma City. “It is also an opportunity to inform emerging young leaders about the health opportunities and risks in our communities.”

House Bill 2279, by Pittman, which would create health education courses in middle schools throughout Oklahoma, was approved unanimously 7-0 by the House Appropriations and Budget Subcommittee on Common Education.

The Oklahoma State Education Department already has a Priority Academic Student Skills for Health and Safety and a health textbook list, which would both be used under the bill.

The following 10 units would be required: physical activity; nutrition; alcohol, tobacco and other drugs; behavioral health; oral health; environmental health; growth and development; injury prevention; bullying prevention; and wellness.

“I am especially excited about bullying prevention being taught in middle school,” said Pittman. “It is a problem that is leading to suicide and violence in our schools. I think we must address bullying across the state to better protect our young people.”

The legislation encourages making health education instruction available online. It also gives parents the right to exempt students from health education.

School districts will have local control of in what grades – sixth, seventh or eighth – and how they would offer the courses, Pittman said.

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Carrie Coppernoll

Carrie Coppernoll is a columnist and reporter. She was named the top personal columnist in Oklahoma in 2009 and 2010 by the Associated Press and Association of Newspaper Editors. She was also named the 2008 Journalist of the Year by the Oklahoma... Read more ›