FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
DC, MD and VA Teachers Meet with Legislators to Advocate for Health and Physical Education as Part of Core Curriculum
RESTON,VA, March 5, 2014– More than 100 physical and health education teachers from across the country, including 17 from DC/MD/northern VA will head to the nation's capital to help ensure health and physical education are considered as core academic subjects under the federal education law known as Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Currently, physical education is not a daily requirement in Washington, D.C., Virginia or Maryland.
The educators, representing 37 states, will be holding face to face meetings with their legislators as part of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD's) 6th annual SPEAK Out! Day on Capitol Hill, March 11-12. They will be seeking additional co-sponsors of the PHYSICAL Act. The PHYSICAL Act, which stands for Promoting Health for Youth Skills in Classrooms and Life (S.392, H.R. 2160), is the key bill, that if passed, would designate physical and health education as core subjects, making them eligible for federal funding under Title I and Title II. The monies would help school districts expand physical and health education programs and professional development for teachers, leading to potential opportunities to dedicate weekly physical activity time, enhanced classroom instruction or development of creative health programs.
The educators will also encourage continued support for the Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP), the only federal funding for physical education. The grant program has been available for the past 13 years and has awarded nearly $800 million to support the development of quality PE programs.
"Schools are uniquely positioned to help children develop the skills necessary to become physically literate and to educate them on the long term value of making healthier eating choices," says Carly Braxton, Senior Manager of Advocacy, for AAHPERD. "As a national association representing health and physical education teachers, we work closely with our members who witness firsthand the daily positive impact physical activity has on a child, from academics to behavioral changes, to a child's health and wellbeing." Currently only six states require physical education in all grades K-12 and many states do not provide adequate health education instruction time as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Both the House and Senate have passed ESEA reauthorization bills through their respective education committees in the 113th Congress. The House version makes no mention of health and physical education and eliminates PEP funding completely. The Senate's proposed bill does include provisions for health and physical education but does not include them as core subjects.
AAHPERD is looking for more staunch supporters to help move this legislation forward and in the right direction. "This is our chance to make real strides in leveling the playing field so that health and physical education programs have the same opportunities to grow and excel as other core subjects," says Braxton.
AAHPERD will host a special luncheon where Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Representative Marcia Fudge (D-OH) will be awarded with SPEAK Out! Day awards for their leadership regarding the PHYSICAL Act. Both members of Congress are cosponsors of the legislation and also sponsored a Congressional briefing in September to highlight the importance of health and physical education in the nation's schools.
Follow the hashtag #shapeofthenation on Twitter and join the conversation on Facebook, to keep up with the latest on SPEAK Out! Day. To learn about the status of physical education in the U.S., visit the Shape of the Nation webpage and read the 2012 Shape of the Nation Report. For more event details, visit the SPEAK Out! Day page.
The vision of SHAPE America - Society of Health and Physical Educators is "Healthy People - Physically Educated and Physically Active!" Headquartered in Reston, VA. 25 miles west of Washington, DC, SHAPE America is the largest organization of professionals involved in school-based health, physical education and physical activity who are dedicated to teaching and promoting active, healthy lifestyles. Founded in 1885, SHAPE America provides a comprehensive array of resources, leadership in the development of standards and guidelines, professional development and advocacy for its members as well as the general public. For more information, visit www.shapeamerica.org.