FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
RESTON, VA , February 12, 2018 — Developing healthy and active students through effective health and physical education programs is the focus this Valentine’s Day as health and physical educators head to Capitol Hill for the 11th Annual SPEAK Out! Day. More than 150 health and physical educators representing 42 states will take part in the SHAPE America – Society of Health and Physical Educators advocacy day on February 14.
The educators are meeting with their legislators in response to serious threats of cuts to programs within the bi-partisan Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and to advocate for full funding to support professional development for teachers and health and physical education programs in schools. Specifically, advocates will ask lawmakers to fully fund Title IV, Part A, Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants, under ESSA, at the authorized level of $1.6 billion. Title IV, Part A, a new state-block grant program which aims to support a well-rounded education, safe and healthy students, and technology, was only appropriated at $400 million for FY 2017 – a mere 25 percent of what schools were promised when ESSA was passed.
SHAPE America President Fran Cleland of West Chester University (PA), will present the organization’s SPEAK Out! Day awards to Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Representative Elise Stefanik (R-NY-21) in honor of their support for health and physical education and Title IV, Part A funding. To reinforce the importance of healthy and active students and celebrate Valentine’s Day, competitive jump rope teams, Hop! Skip! Jump! from Dumfries, VA and the HT High Flyers from Ligonier, PA, will perform at a Jump Rope For Heart showcase at 12:00 pm in the Rayburn House Office Building foyer.
During these Capitol Hill meetings, advocates will offer insight and perspective on the negative impact of marginalizing health and physical education in schools. They will also share success stories and the links that exist between health, physical education and academic achievement.
When ESSA was passed in 2015, health and physical education were designated as part of a well-rounded education, making these subjects eligible for federal education funding for the first time. As Congress reconciles appropriations for FY 2018 and beyond, several proposals in Congress would significantly underfund ESSA and put health and physical education at risk of not being able to thrive in schools.
SHAPE America’s Director, Public Policy and Advocacy Carly Wright says it is critical to fund Title IV, Part A at a meaningful level as many states’ ESSA plans address student wellness, physical education, or chronic absenteeism, which is often impacted by a student’s health and physical activity habits.
“As states help to guide school districts in fully implementing ESSA for the 2018-19 school year, we must ensure that they have sufficient funding to effectively enact programs that will support the state’s educational priorities,” says Wright. “In turn, we are also laser-focused on ensuring that health and physical education are on top of the state’s priority lists.”
In addition to pushing for full funding for Title IV, Part A, advocates will also ask Congress to support continued funding for Title II, Part A, which supports professional development for all school employees, including for health and physical education programs.
Effective health and physical education are the cornerstones to preparing students to lead active, healthy lives, which is SHAPE America’s national commitment called 50 Million Strong by 2029.
For more event details, visit SPEAK Out! Day. Find updates during the two-day event by following @SHAPE_America, #SPEAKOutDay and #MoreTitleIV on Twitter and SHAPE America on Facebook to watch the prep day session via live stream.
Snr. Advisor to the CEO