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Back to October Ed Reporter

Education Reporter
NUMBER 261 THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS OCTOBER 2007

P.E. Making a Comeback

After years of physical education and recess cutbacks, many school districts and states now realize that children need to exercise more than their minds in the average school day.

Concern about low math and reading achievement had motivated many districts to cut out Physical Education (P.E.) or recess, especially since the No Child Left Behind Act took effect. P.E. proponents argue that children learn better and act out less in class if they have some free time to move around during the day.

Florida, Oregon and Mississippi recently passed laws requiring 150 minutes of P.E. a week for elementary students. Mississippi's law also requires 150 minutes of P.E. a week for middle schoolers. Oregon mandated 225 minutes a week of P.E. for middle schoolers, along with 45 minutes a week of health education for all students K-8. Texas and Illinois also recently strengthened P.E. requirements for their students.

36 states require elementary schools to offer P.E., but many of them also offer waivers that large numbers of schools use to get around the mandate. Even where P.E. requirements apply broadly, some require as little as 30 minutes a week of P.E.

Legislators warm up to P.E. as they notice obesity trends and the effect obesity has on Medicare and Medicaid costs. 66% of Americas are overweight, including 32% who are obese. About 19% of children ages 6 to 11 are overweight or obese today, compared to 4% in the 1960s. Very young children and adolescents are about three times more likely to be overweight than they were in the 1960s.

The federal government may consider an amendment to NCLB that would offer incentives to schools with P.E. classes. The American Medical Association and P.E. advocacy groups such as the National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity are working to motivate Congress to include such an amendment in NCLB's reauthorization. (Washington Times, 8-26-07)


 
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