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Gov. Frank Keating of Oklahoma is taking heat for wanting to require that extracurricular activities actually be extracurricular.

Gov. Frank Keating

The governor strongly favors a bill that would limit Oklahoma schools' ability to carry on a long-standing practice of holding sports practices and other student activities during the school day. It would require a minimum of six hours of academics a day, which could include physical education classes—anything from a traditional gym class to health education—but not competitive sports. Schools may currently hold practices during the day if they call them "physical education."

The bill failed to make it out of appropriations subcommittees in the House and Senate last month. But it is expected to appear again as part of a different measure in the spring. Requiring practices to be held after hours would be unpopular with parents and community members, particularly in rural areas where schools have limited athletic facilities, Oklahoma school groups predicted.

Randall Raburn, the executive director of the Oklahoma Association of School Administrators, estimates that no more than 25 of the state's 543 school districts already hold sports practices after school. In some cases, he said, the practices take the place of gym classes.

"In Oklahoma and Texas, athletics have been a part of the school day for a long, long time," he added.

Dan Mahoney, a spokesman for the Mr. Keating, blames some of the negative reaction on a misperception.

"People felt he was trying to remove football, or that he was against football, and he's not," he said. "He does feel that school is for learning and academics. What he doesn't like seeing is a girls' basketball team practicing at 11:30 when they should be in school."

—Jessica L. Sandham

Vol. 19, Issue 27, Page 24

Published in Print: March 15, 2000, as State Journal

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