A new bill introduced before the state senate in Minnesota would make it the first state in the USA to have mandatory aquatics education statewide in its public school system.
The bill, number SF 1825, has been introduced by Jeff Hayden of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party in Minnesota (a fairly Minnesota-specific party). He’s also the deputy majority leader in Minnesota’s senate.
The bill would require “aquatics instruction in the standards for physical education in kindergarten through grade 12.” It would allow schools without a pool, or without a pool within 10 miles, to still make an effort at teaching water safety through the best available dryland methodologies.
The bill is currently referred to the Education committee.
Hayden is a representative of Minnesota’s 62nd District, where 23.2% of the population is Black and 23.2% of the population is Hispanic. That is significantly higher than the 5.2% and 4.7% of the broader Minnesota populations that are made up by each of those groups.
This is significant in that according to several studies, including the International Swimming Hall of Fame, drowning deaths are significantly higher among these minority groups at ages over 4 years old, which are the ages that this bill would include.
Even more significantly, Minnesota has the highest “unintentional drowning rates among blacks” in the country, with 3.15 per 1000,000 of population. The next-highest state is Arkansas with a rate of 2.68 per 100,000 in population.
The number of environmental factors contributing to Minnesota’s abnormally high drowning rates are important here. Specifically, the “land of 10,000 lakes” has ample opportunity in natural bodies of water for drowning, especially when coupled with frigid temperatures making these lakes and rivers an even greater risk.
The rates of drowning in that state are on the rise, too. On July 5th, 2012, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported already 25 drownings in non-boating accidents, which was the highest number since 2003.
The entire bill can be read below.
1.5 Section 1. Laws 2010, chapter 396, section 7, subdivision 3, is amended to read:
1.6 Subd. 3. Standards adoption. (a) Notwithstanding Minnesota Statutes, sections
<statute_ref>1.7120B.021, subdivision 2 , and <statute_ref>120B.023, any statutory criteria required when reviewing
1.8or revising standards and benchmarks and any requirements governing the content of
1.9statewide standards or any other law to the contrary, the commissioner of education shall
1.10initially adopt the most recent standards developed by the National Association for Sport
1.11and Physical Education for physical education in grades kindergarten through 12.
1.12(b) The commissioner must include aquatics instruction in the standards for physical
1.13education in kindergarten through grade 12. A school site without a pool or without
1.14access to a pool within ten miles of the school site at least must provide the students with
1.15instruction on water safety, water safety rescue techniques, dry land strokes, kick practice,
1.16and buoyancy principles. A person providing aquatics instruction under this paragraph
1.17must possess a current certificate from the American Red Cross or YMCA of the U.S.A.
1.18lifeguard training program or be equivalently qualified. In addition, the person must be
1.19certified in standard first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
1.20 Sec. 2. Laws 2010, chapter 396, section 7, the effective date, is amended to read:
2.1EFFECTIVE DATE.This section is effective the day following final enactment
2.2except for subdivision 3, paragraph (b), which is effective in the 2014-2015 school year