Yesterday, state Senator Vernon Sykes (D-Akron) introduced Senate Bill 287 to require the State Board of Education to create health education standards for K-12 schools.
Ohio is the only state in the nation without health education standards. And health education is the only subject area without academic content standards in the state.
“This legislation would help students acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to develop and maintain a healthy lifestyle,” said Senator Sykes. “By not having health education standards, Ohio is missing an opportunity to improve the health of its citizens. Given our state’s ongoing opioid crisis, a more thorough health education could certainly help to prevent and curb addiction.”
The need for health education standards is evident given the state’s poor health indicators and current opioid epidemic. According to the Health Policy Institute of Ohio, the state ranks 43 out of 50 states on a composite measure of population health
. The state ranks second in opioid death overdoses
"Without the guidance from state standards, health education is often a forgotten content area leading to an outdated and ineffective curriculum. Research has found that about half of health education teachers either have a curriculum that is outdated or is not readily available,” said Kevin Lorson, Wright State University professor and past president of the Ohio Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. “This bill aligns the entire health education curriculum to ensure our students have the skills to make healthy choices throughout their life."
Health standards established in the bill would provide a framework for educators to follow when establishing district-specific curriculum that promotes health-enhancing behavior at all grade levels. Local schools could choose to opt out. The legislation would not affect current laws governing sexual education.