March to P.E. in South Carolina (S.302)
When Dr. Don Johnson’s son told him he would have to take Physical Education (P.E.) online in order to fit all of his AP courses and band into his high school schedule, Don was appalled. Wando High School’s marching band students spend hours everyday stretching, dancing, doing yoga, cross-fit, marching, AND playing music. Why could THIS not count as P.E. credit if ROTC and online PE can? He immediately called his friend & Senator Vincent Sheheen, and discovered there was a 2016 bill that passed in the SC Senate that could award PE credit for band. Due to push back from PE groups, the bill died in the House. Senator Sheheen explained the steps, expenses, and process needed to make this bill a reality.
Next, Don used his lobbyist contacts on the MUSC board to find a lobbyist who would be a perfect fit for this cause, Ted Riley. Then Don organized a meeting with South Carolina Band Directors Association (SCBDA), the lobbyist, and Bobby Lambert, Wando Band Director. They explained to SCBDA the political process, expenses, & advocacy required to make this bill into a law. SCBDA then voted to make an all out concerted effort to pass this bill.
Don also organized daily conference calls with SCBDA President Leah Corde & VP Joe Gulledge, along with Ted Riley, the lobbyist, through the political session. Senator Sheehan was the bill sponsor (S.302) in the Senate. The bill passed committee and then through the entire Senate with the help of Don’s friend & former band parent, Senator Gerald Malloy. Representative Rita Allison was our bill’s sponsor in the House. Mike Sottile, our local House Representative for Wando, was contacted by Don as well. He met with Don several times in Columbia and Mt. Pleasant, and was key in getting the bill passed in the House. Passing the bill in the House was a much more difficult & contentious situation. Don & Bobby, with the help of SCBDA organized a group of band directors & parents on May 1, to meet in Columbia & sit in on the House session while the bill was being discussed. About 200 people came to support the bill and stayed most of the day.
After passing both Senate & House, Governor McMaster signed the bill into law May 18, 2018. The South Carolina Band Directors Association has made efforts to get this bill passed for 20 almost years. With the push from Dr. Don Johnson, Wando Band Foundation President & band parent, South Carolina became the 22nd state with PE credit for marching band.
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- SCBDA Advocacy page: https://www.bandlink.org/about/advocacy/
- Final Bill Version: https://www.scstatehouse.gov/sess122_2017-2018/prever/302_20180510.htm