I know you all want to know about Richard Simmons on the Hill today.
Let’s get the wonkery out of the way. The FIT Kids Act has a chance of getting through the House this year, Rep. Ron Kind, D-Wis., one of its sponsors, said today. Kind and Rep. Zach Wamp, R-Tenn., agreed to drop sections of the bill that would make physical education one of multiple measures to be considered under NCLB’s accountability system. Without that, the bill still would require states to report on the amount and quality of PE offered in their schools, as well as effort to improve professional development of teachers and principals. The bill also would create a pilot program aimed at reducing childhood obesity. If you’re looking at this summary from the American Heart Association, strike out the first bullet under What the Bill Would Do and you’ll see what’s left in the bill.
As for what Simmons said and did on the Hill, I’ll leave it to others to report about his coy suggestions that he may run for Congress. But one thing he said resonated with me.
In answering a question during the hearing, he said that parents and teachers use music to teach preschoolers the alphabet, numbers, and other things. “At a certain age, the music stops and everything becomes academic,” he said. But he said that children respond when he encourages them to move to their favorite music.
I suspect he’s right. I saw it in action this morning. As Simmons was walking into the House Rayburn building, he passed a group of teenagers—most of them African Americans—waiting in the security line. They were waving and taking pictures of him.
“Hey, you’re dancin,” he said to one girls who was swaying in place.
“I’m sweatin’ to the oldies,” she said.
“No you’re not,” he said, “You’re dancing to” and he started singing “No One” by Alicia Keys. He slithered toward her doing some of his workout moves.
She and everyone else in line sang along. Those who weren’t taking pictures, danced with them.
In just a few moments, he got those kids moving—and left them smiling.
“She’s sassy,” he said as he and his entourage (me included) headed into the building.
If you ever run into Simmons on the street, he’ll greet you like a friend (“I don’t know a stranger,” he told me); he might kiss you (he planted one on Wamp’s forehead); and he might get you dancing.
A version of this news article first appeared in the NCLB: Act II blog.