SPEAK Out! Day focuses on ESSA

As part of SHAPE America’s 10th annual SPEAK Out! Day, advocates stormed Capitol Hill to seek support for health and physical education under the new bipartisan federal education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). 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. In response to serious threats of cuts to federal funding under ESSA, 215 members from 45 states participated in over 220 meetings with members of Congress and their staff.

Prior to heading to Capitol Hill on the 26th, attendees participated in a prep session where they were educated on ESSA and the opportunities for health and physical education within the new law. They also heard from member leaders in states that have been successful in advocating for the inclusion of health and physical education in their state’s ESSA plans. In addition, representatives from the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) and AASA: The Superintendents Association shared tips and advice for advocating with school administrators.

During these Capitol Hill meetings, teachers and advocates offered insight and perspective on the negative impact of marginalizing health and physical education in schools. They also shared success stories and the links that exist between health, physical education and academic achievement.

Specifically, advocates urged legislators to support full funding for:

  • Title IV, Part A under ESSA, which funds a well-rounded education, safe and healthy students programs, and effective use of technology;
  • Title II, Part A under ESSA, which funds professional development for school employees and;
  • Title IV, Part A under ESSA which funds after-school programs for low-income schools.

All of these Titles have been targeted for significant funding cuts in proposals by Congress or the Presidential Administration for both FY 2017 and 2018. Strong levels of appropriations for these programs are critical to ensuring that states and school districts have access to sufficient funding to bolster health and physical education programs in schools.

SHAPE America also recognized Congressional supporters of health and physical education during a luncheon in the Capitol Visitor Center. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) as well as Representatives Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR-1) and Joe Crowley (D-NY-14) were honored with the 2017 SPEAK Out! Day Awards. Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP) supporters over the years, the legislators were also supportive of including health and physical education in ESSA as part of a student’s well-rounded education.

Additionally, SHAPE America honored those advocates that have attended all 10 SPEAK Out! Day events with the 2017 SPEAK Out! Day Advocate Award. Recipients included: Roger Jackson of Michigan, Clayton Ellis of Colorado, Constantine Psimopoulos of Massachusetts and Beverly Martin of Pennsylvania.

Download Momentum Spring 2017