Rep. Karen Clark (DFL–Minneapolis) has introduced a bill this session that would require public school students to take swimming classes.
Clark tells Aaron Rupar of the City Pages that she believes it's a civil rights issue.
"The racial drowning disparity is a civil rights issue when you come right down to it," Clark tells us. "And one of the reasons African Americans drown is because swimming pools were closed to African American people for many decades. It's a legacy of drowning that's not okay, and we can do something about it."
Clark's bill, H.F. 2113, states:
The commissioner must include aquatics instruction in the standards for physical education in kindergarten through grade 12. A school site without a pool or without access to a pool within ten miles of the school site at least must provide the students with instruction on water safety, water safety rescue techniques, dry land strokes, kick practice, and buoyancy principles. A person providing aquatics instruction under this paragraph must possess a current certificate from the American Red Cross or YMCA of the U.S.A. lifeguard training program or be equivalently qualified. In addition, the person must be certified in standard first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
No state in the nation requires public school students to take swimming instruction.