Banged up Pennsylvania Students

No, this has nothing to do with any current high profile news.  Instead, this is to note that apparently, Pennsylvania's students are not as tough as we (and they) through they were.

Our students are injuring their brains playing sports.  In response, the Pennsylvania legislature passed a bill that says once a kid starts looking like he or she has a concussion, that student cannot play again until passed by a doctor.

More below.

The new legislation is found in Act 101 of 2011, titled the "Safety in Youth Sports Act," and its text can be found here.  It imposes penalties mostly against coaches for not taking the proper action, but it also totally insulates those coaches from civil liability where they take that stated action.

To help ensure that coaches know what to look for, the Act requires annual education of coaches to recognize the signs of a concussion.  It also requires a sign-off by student athletes and their parents/guardians.  There are a few more optional but encouraged items, too.

I really do not have a gripe about the Act itself.  My issue is more systemic.  The legislature regularly saddles schools with requirements without giving those schools funds to accomplish the desired ends. Those are called unfunded mandates.  I get reminded of how much schools dislike such unfunded mandates when I read Acts such as this with the accompanying "fiscal note' (in this case it is found here).

The fiscal note in this case reassured the General Assembly that  the members can pass the legislation without worrying about an impact on Commonwealth funds.   Of course, there is nothing there about the impact on the schools that have to implement the Act.

Obviously, being aware of concussions and taking action to avoid them is worthwhile, but that does not change that this is yet another unfunded mandate imposed on the schools of Pennsylvania.

By the way, for those that thought this only applied to public school districts, I have a surprise: it specifically says that it is also applicable to all non-public schools that have elected to be part of the PIAA.  It also applies to both interscholastic sports AND club sponsored sports activities AND sports activities sponsored by school-affliated organizations.

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