After the October 2011 audit in New York, City Comptroller John Liu said that the city’s Department of Education “is failing gym.” His audit of 31 elementary schools found none complying with a requirement that they offer at least 120 minutes a week of physical education for students in kindergarten through sixth grade.
The audit says part of the reason schools do not comply with the state requirements is that their principals are not aware of them. But there may be other reasons, like lack of space because many buildings are overcrowded and lack of money after five consecutive years of budget cuts. Forty-eight states have their own standards for physical education, but only two-thirds of them require local districts to comply with them, according to a 2010 report by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education, known as NASPE.
With public schools cutting back on spending for physical education, some members of Congress want to intervene, worried that the lack of physical education in the nation’s schools contributes to the increase in obesity rates. Members of Congress are offering many different plans in an attempt to get kids exercising more. The FIT Kids Act – short for the Fitness Integrated with Teaching Kids Act – would measure schools on how they’re progressing in comparison to national standards. And it would pay for research to examine the link between children’s health and their academic achievement. The FIT Kids Act renews the emphasis on physical education in schools by working to ensure kids are active during the school day and are given opportunities that promote overall health and wellness.
Congressman Jose E. Serrano wrote a letter to Mr. Srecko Mavrek, the President Elect of the NYC Zone of the NYS AHPERD, thanking him for writing to him with regards to the FIT Kids Act. Last October, Mavrek sent several letters to our federal legislators to urge them to support the bills that will improve the current status of physical education and health education.
Congressman Serrano said in a letter to Mavrek that “obesity is a major health concern in the South Bronx and we owe it to our children to support and encourage healthy lifestyles.” He added, “I have been a longtime supporter of increasing green space in the Bronx, and providing everyone with more opportunities to exercise outdoors. As you may know, H.R. 1057, the Fitness Integrated with Teaching (FIT) Kids Act amends the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to require annual report cards to include information on school health and physical education programs, revises the professional development program for teachers and principals to include physical and health education training, and directs the Secretary of Education to have the National Academy of Sciences assess the effect health and physical education has on students’ ability to learn. Please be assured that I will support this legislation if it comes to the House floor for a vote.”
“Childhood obesity rates have tripled over the last few decades. Despite this alarming trend, schools are cutting back on quality physical educations programs. This means that kids are missing physical activity during the school day, as well as important learning about life-long health habits. Both quality physical education and health education are critical components of educating the whole child, helping students to become health literate, understand the benefits of a physically active lifestyle, model and practice healthful behaviors, and adopt a lifelong commitment to healthy living. More than 80 percent of adults support daily physical education, but such programs have been on the decline in many school districts,” said Mavrek. He added, “Both educators and politicians must work together to promote physical education and fight the childhood obesity epidemic. Congressman Serrano’s efforts to provide more recreational space in the Bronx are highly appreciated. Thanking to him and his friend Congressman Joe Crowley, the newly restored Orchard Beach was opened last summer. Last October, he and State Senator Jose M. Serrano announced New Bronx & Harlem River initiative to develop new recreational facilities and increase public access to Harlem River.”