APS Teacher to Advocate for Physical Education at SPEAK Out! Day on Capitol Hill

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NEWS RELEASE #43
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 7, 2014

WHAT: APS Teacher to Advocate for Physical Education at SPEAK Out! Day on Capitol Hill
WHEN: March 11-12, 2014
WHERE: Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.

Local physical  education teacher Clayton Ellis from Aurora Central High School in Aurora, CO  will head to the nation’s capital with representatives from 37 other states to help ensure health and physical education are considered as core academic subjects under the federal education law known as Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

Clayton will be advocating as part of AAHPERD’s 6th annual SPEAK Out! Day on Capitol Hill. Clayton and more than 100 fellow colleagues from around the country will seek additional cosponsors of the PHYSICAL Act.  The PHYSICAL Act, which stands for Promoting Health for Youth Skills in Classrooms and Life (S.392, H.R. 2160), is the key bill, that if passed, would designate physical education and health education as core subjects, making them eligible for federal funding under Title I and Title II. The monies would help school districts expand physical education and health education programs and professional development for teachers, leading to potential opportunities to dedicate weekly physical activity time, enhanced classroom instruction or development of creative health programs.        

The group of more than 100 teachers will also encourage continued support for the Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP), the only federal funding for physical education. The grant program has been available for the past 13 years and has awarded nearly $800 million to support the development of quality physical education programs.

“As a physical education teacher, I see day in and day out the impact physical education has on all aspects of a student’s life, from improved academics and behavior in the classroom, to increased confidence to excel in other endeavors, both personal and academic, as well as the obvious proven physical and mental health benefits of being physically active,” says Clayton Ellis. There are very few innovative “new school” quality physical education programs in Colorado that offer a comprehensive variety of activities due to the lack of funding and lack of priority because physical education is not required or assessed.

Currently only six states require physical education in ALL grades K-12 and many states do not provide adequate health education instruction time as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Colorado is one of only two states in the country that does not require ANY physical education from kindergarten to twelfth grade. High school graduation requirements in Colorado vary from ZERO to three credits with the average being one and a half credits. Elementary students in Colorado average only 25-50 minutes of physical education per week.

Through AAHPERD’s 2013 SPEAK Out! Day, physical and health education teachers were able to secure sponsors of the PHYSICAL Act including Representative Marcia Fudge (D-OH) which led to the bill being introduced in the House of Representatives for the first time. Other House sponsors resulting from the advocacy efforts include Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) and Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO).

“Both the House and Senate have passed ESEA reauthorization bills through their respective education committees in the 113th Congress. The House version makes no mention of health and physical education and eliminates PEP funding completely. The Senate’s proposed bill does include provisions for health and physical education but does not include them as core subjects,” says Carly Braxton, Senior Manager of Advocacy, for AAHPERD.

“We are looking for more staunch supporters to help move this legislation forward and in the right direction. This is our chance to make real strides in leveling the playing field so that health and physical education programs have the same opportunities to grow and excel as other core subjects,” says Braxton.

Ellis will also have the opportunity to share stories on the impact of PEP on the local level and the need for more stringent mandates for physical education and health education.  In addition, Ellis will attend a special luncheon where Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Representative Marcia Fudge (D-OH) will be awarded with SPEAK Out! Day awards for their leadership regarding the PHYSICAL Act. Both members of Congress are cosponsors of the legislation and also sponsored a Congressional briefing in September to highlight the importance of health and physical education in the nation’s schools.

Follow the hashtag #shapeofthenation on Twitter and join the conversation on Facebook, to keep up with the latest on SPEAK Out! Day. To learn about the status of physical education in the U.S. with state by start profiles, visit the Shape of the Nation webpage and read the 2012 Shape of the Nation Report. For more event details, visit AAHPERD. 

About Society of Health and Physical Educators (formerly AAHPERD)
The Society of Health and Physical Educators, doing business as SHAPE America, is headquartered in Reston, VA, 25 miles west of Washington, D.C. Its vision is "Healthy People – Physically Educated and Physically Active!" SHAPE America is the largest organization of professionals involved in physical education, physical activity, dance, school health and sport--all specialties related to achieving an active, healthy lifestyle. Its mission is to advance professional practice and promote research related to health and physical education, physical activity, dance and sport by providing its members with a comprehensive and coordinated array of resources, support and programs to help practitioners improve their skills to further the health and well-being of the American public. For more information, visit www.aahperd.org.

 

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