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Background: I recently received the following e-mail from a perspective PE teacher. He recently found out that the school district’s physical education program is slated to be cut next year. Here is what he wrote and my reply:

Artie,

My name is Scott Rowland and I met you at the Midwest AHPERD Leadership Conference in Indiana at Pokagon.  The school that I am student teaching at is cutting physical education from the elementary schools and cutting teachers from the high school and middle school.

There is a meeting tonight to give teachers and community members a chance to share.  What types things would you be sure to mention in the five minutes that they get to talk.  What is your opinion on why PE is important for elementary students?  Thanks for your time.

Future Physical Educator,

Scott Rowland

PS:  You were awesome at Pokagon!
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Dear Scott: I’m sorry to hear the possibility that your physical education program may be cut or eliminated! Unfortunately, those of us in PE have “dropped the ball” by not adding a stronger level of accountability into our programs. Most of us in PE have resisted the need to assess and gather relevant data to demonstrate our effectiveness (or lack there of) in tracking and monitoring student success.  While I didn’t discuss this topic at Pokagon, every state and school district needs to implement a program like the Virtual PE Administrator so that we will have the necessary data to demonstrate the importance of our chosen profession! Below is text for a one page document that I modified from a NASPE publication called “Why Children Need PE.” It shows what will happen if your program is cut. Please edit it with your own thoughts and provide a copy for each school board member. Please let me know how it all turns out. — Artie

Why Children Need Physical Education

Background: Over the years, educational researchers has concluded that physical education contributes towards helping students to be safe, healthy, and physically active. This is especially true at the younger grades where students first learn how to apply these safety, wellness, and active lifestyle skills. The following ten research-based outcomes would be dramatically impacted by cutting the elementary PE program at this time:

  • Decreased Physical Fitness: Physical education improves children’s muscular strength, flexibility, muscular endurance, body composition and cardiovascular endurance.  It PE is cut, students will not learn these important skills and concepts!
  • Decreased Skill Development: Physical education develops motor skills, which allow for safe, successful and satisfying participation in physical activities.
  • Decreased Opportunities for Healthful Physical Activity: Physical education provides a wide-range of developmentally appropriate activities for all children.
  • More Self Discipline Referrals: Physical education facilitates development of student responsibility for health and fitness.
  • Decreased opportunities to increase Character and Judgment: Quality physical education can influence moral development. Students have the opportunity to assume leadership, cooperate with others; question actions and regulations and accept responsibility for their own behavior.
  • Increased Stress! Physical activity enhances a student’s ability for releasing tension and anxiety, and facilitates emotional stability and resilience.
  • Weakening of Positive Peer Relationships: Physical education can be a major force in helping children socialize with others successfully and provides opportunities to learn positive people skills. Especially during late childhood and adolescence, being able to participate in dances, games and sports is an important part of peer culture.
  • Decreased Opportunities for Self-confidence and Self-esteem: Physical education instills a stronger sense of self-worth in children based on their mastery of skills and concepts in physical activity. They can become more confident, assertive, independent and self-controlled.
  • Decreased Opportunities for Setting Goals: Physical education provides children the opportunity to set and strive for personal, achievable goals.
  • Increased Health Risks! Lastly, physical education provides our children with the opportunity to learn and practice obesity-prevention habits, sound nutritional behaviors, and higher levels of physical activity. If we take PE from our children, where will ALL youth – not just the athletically inclined – learn about these important life skills?

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