Should Minnesota be the first state that requires students learn to swim?

File photo Swimming in St. Paul. Jennifer Simonson/MPR News

“Buried in the education bill that passed earlier this month is a measure that requires the state to examine and develop statewide swimming resources. It sets the stage for Minnesota to become the first state in the nation to require swimming in public schools,” writes Boua Xiong for KARE11.

The legislation asks the commissioner of education to establish a work group of stakeholders and report back to the legislature on current swimming resources and what it will take to make swimming available to all children in public schools. The report is due next February.

Representative Karen Clark, the bill’s author in the house, told KARE 11, “Everyone should have health insurance, everyone should have clean air, and everyone should know how to swim.”

While there is no guarantee a mandate requiring swimming for all children will pass during the next legislative session, Hannah Lieder, a swimming advocate who pushed for the bill, believes the state is headed in the right direction.

Today’s Question: Should Minnesota be the first state that requires students learn to swim?

  • kevins

    Nope. Would never work well for rural schools. Teaching all kids to be safe and competent swimmers is a great idea, but that’s what summer is for.

  • PaulJ

    Examine and develop sure; require, no. That kind of money would be better spent on book lern’n.

  • Gary F

    State mandate? No. More nanny state government. Shouldn’t parents be taking an active roll in this?

  • Gordon near Two Harbors

    Since many/most kids don’t even shower after gym class I can’t imagine many of them even wanting to get into a swimsuit–and the parents will sign slips excusing their kid from doing so. Must be a result of the child obesity epidemic that didn’t exist a generation ago.

  • Kathy

    The state already mandates what we teach in math, reading, languages, social studies, and science. Why not in phy Ed? We had swimming as a gym unit in junior high, my kids did in middle school.
    Current research shows learning is improved when balanced with physical activity. Gotta keep the blood flowing! Sitting in desks all day just pools it in our feet!

  • Jim G

    Drown proofing kids at public pools is very doable. It’s been done in some area suburban districts for many years. Warning: There will be blow-back. It takes political courage to teach all kids a survival and fitness skill they’ll have for their entire lives.

    • Gary F

      Sounds like you are saying kids should join scouting. A great place for kids to learn all that, and learn to swim.

      • Jim G

        I was in scouting. It’s a fine organization, but it’s not available in every community. A more efficient and cost effective way to assure all kids are taught to swim, drown proofing, is in our public school Phy. Ed. curriculum. I know that even private school kids are also bussed over for drown proofing. This would provide equal opportunities to assure that every child can swim and survive an incident in the state of 10,000 lakes.

        • Gary F

          The missing link is parenting.

          • Jim G

            Parents… some are better than others. I was lucky to have a two parent household, but that doesn’t mean day in and out every parental decision was a prudent one . Some kids, like my step-son and daughter lose their dads and don’t have one to teach them how to swim during those formative middle years. And some like my nuclear family have parents who held two, and sometimes three jobs to provide for the necessities of life. Every kid, every last one… should be drown proofed. It shouldn’t depend on whether they live in a suburban school district that can afford to pay for public pools, or an involved, dead, over burdened, or over protective parents. That’s what community education is all about, providing the skills that the society deems important, kinda like vaccinations. Yeah, like a protective herd immunity to drowning.

        • John Dilligaf

          Not every community has a pool or lake available either.

  • Charlie Oakes

    All my kids took swimming lessons and fire arms safety training. You have to be able to safely fall out of the boat and unload the shotgun if you live in MN.

  • raymarshall

    Most people don’t go near the water. So you want to spend millions teaching them swimming, lacrosse, dancing, theater, poetry, etc. when maybe you should be teaching them to read and write and add and subtract? It’d be cheaper just to hire more life guards.

  • sajaworski

    the answer is YES. This is what I would like my tax dollars to be used for. How many more kids (and adults, for that matter) need to drown before this is addressed?

  • Carolyn Caufman

    As a 43-year swim instructor (still active), I say YES! I think it is already required for middle schools to have pools for just that reason. There are “10,000” opportunities in Minnesota for kids to be in and near water; why wouldn’t we eliminate the risks by teaching water skills and safety? Swim classes also include a good dose of basic safety thinking. In addition, swimming is a lifetime individual sport that promotes good health (think anti-obesity) without damaging joints.
    And while the kids are learning to swim, parents need to be trained to watch for the signs of drowning–it is silent and fast!–rather than looking at their phones or tablets or books or even the people they are talking with. The lifeguard may be scanning in the other direction when your child (or any other) gets into difficulty.