Physical Educator Heads to US Capitol Hill to Advocate for Health & Physical Education

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NEWS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 9, 2018

Physical Educator Heads to US Capitol Hill to Advocate for Health & Physical Education

SHAPE America Members Will Ask Congress to Fully Fund Title IV, Part A of ESSA

In response to serious threats of cuts to the federal funding of the bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), Aurora health and physical educator Clayton Ellis from Mrachek Middle School is headed to Capitol Hill to advocate for full funding to support professional development for teachers and health and physical education programs in schools.

Ellis will be asking lawmakers to fully fund the federal education program Title IV, Part A, Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants, under ESSA.

Ellis will join more than 150 fellow health and physical educators representing 42 states on Capitol Hill to take part in the SHAPE America – Society of Health and Physical Educators 11th annual member advocacy day, SPEAK Out! Day, on February 13-14.

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. Under a new program, Title IV, Part A, schools will receive funding to support a well-rounded education, safe and healthy student programs, and effective use of technology. Despite Title IV, Part A being authorized at $1.65 billion dollars in ESSA, Congress only appropriated $400 million to support these vital programs for FY 2017. As Congress reconciles appropriations for FY 2018 and beyond, several proposals in Congress would also significantly underfund ESSA and put health and physical education at risk of not being able to thrive in schools.

“Under this block grant, we are going to be competing with many other subject areas and programs for financial support. We need to make sure that the pot of money is as large as possible to ensure that health and physical education programs will have the chance to access at least a portion of that funding,” says Ellis.

During these Capitol Hill meetings, teachers and 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.

Last year Clayton Ellis received the SHAPE America Advocate of the Year Award. He states, “It is common knowledge that healthier students do a better job academically yet Colorado does not mandate any graduation requirements for health or physical education. Funding for Colorado schools is nearly the lowest in the country, so when funds get tight, the content areas that are not a priority are usually the first to get cut. Health and physical education standards include numerous soft skills that students need in order to successfully function in society for example; bully prevention, cooperation, problem solving, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship, teamwork. Colorado schools should be promoting healthy and active lifestyles through ESSA funding.”

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 state’s 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 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 and #MoreTitleIV on Twitter.


About SHAPE America
SHAPE America - Society of Health and Physical Educators is committed to ensuring all children have the opportunity to lead healthy, physically active lives. As the nation's largest membership organization of health and physical education professionals, SHAPE America works with its 50 state affiliates and national partners to support initiatives such as the Presidential Youth Fitness Program, Let's Move! Active Schools (now Active Schools) and the Jump Rope For Heart/Hoops For Heart programs.

Since its founding in 1885, the organization has defined excellence in physical education, and our resources provide the leadership, professional development and advocacy that support health and physical educators at every level - from preschool to university graduate programs. For more information, visit www.shapeamerica.org.

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