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What’s most worrisome is we continue to substitute government one-size-fits-all policies for common-sense parenting.

If you want phys-ed programs in your schools, tell the local powers that be. If you want a run-walk track or swimming pool at your local rec, make it happen.

When we relinquish power to the inside-the-Beltway crowd, we get stuck with the short end of the proverbial Big Brother shtick - like warnings that say smoking is bad for your health.

A group of “experts” are meeting this week at the University of Northern Iowa on, ta da, physical education. Its title is the Global Forum for Physical Education Pedagogy 2010, and that 2010 likely means there are more such confabs to come.

That could be a good thing if there are no federal mandates to level the playing field lurking in the shadows.

Shellie Pfohl, head of the president’s council, seems to get it. In an interview Wednesday with, here’s how she responded to a question about the “pressure to boost math and reading scores” pushing PE to the back burner: “We’re seeing some unintended consequences where schools are counting the time that kids walk between classes as physical activity and using that as an excuse to cut physical education. That is completely wrong. We know that physical education can be an integral part of the school day. So it’s a matter of principals and superintendents understanding the importance.”

Now, we know principals and superintendents used to chew gum and walk at the same time - that is, they made sure public schools had mandatory academic courses and mandatory gym classes.

Public schools have strayed from their local missions and now follow Washington’s lead.

But you don’t need me to tell you how to take back your schools, do you?

c Deborah Simmons can be reached at