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Audit Finds City’s Schools Short on Physical Education

October 6, 2011

Yesterday’s news in New York City.  Can’t say I’m surprised; however, I am disappointed nonetheless.  Some startling sentences pop up from this article (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/05/nyregion/many-city-schools-dont-provide-physical-education-audit-finds.html):

1.  None of the 31 elementary schools throughout the city that officials visited — of about 700 total — were in full compliance with the state guidelines on physical education, the audit found.

Rather self-explanatory.  We could only hope that not all 700 schools were a total failure in this department.

2.  It also found that the city’s Department of Education had not filed physical education plans with the state since 1982, in spite of a state recommendation that the plans be reviewed and updated every seven years.

So in roughly 30 years, plans for physical and health education in New York City were not even examined and looked at to check if they met state standards?  How much longer could this have gone?

3.  Education Department officials said in the audit that they did not monitor whether students were getting as much exercise as they should in school, and that it was each principal’s responsibility to make sure the requirements were met, much as it is the principal’s role to supervise compliance in other instructional areas.

I find it unfair that this falls completely on the principal’s shoulders.  Granted, they have plenty of responsibilities and roles to fulfill; however, as a physical and health education teacher, you would expect someone to step up from these schools  and voice their opinions on the matter.  The principal should generally know what’s going on in his or her school, but sometimes he or she cannot know for certain without teachers elaborating on what’s going on in their classes.

4.  Auditors visited selected schools throughout the five boroughs that serve students from prekindergarten through eighth grade, to determine whether physical education classes were held as frequently as required: every day for kindergarten through third grade, for at least 120 minutes a week; three times a week for grades four through six, also for a minimum of 120 minutes; and at least 90 minutes a week for grades seven and eight.

What jumps out for me in this paragraph is highlighted in italics.  Why is there a 30 minute drop in activity time expected for high school students?  What kind of message is being sent across when we tell our children that you don’t have to or shouldn’t participate in physical activity and physical and health education classes as much.

Overall, this audit was very discouraging.  Although this occurred in a very different education system than Canada, the issues remain disturbingly similar between the countries.  With obesity constantly on the rise (I believe I read something along the lines that 50% of the population would be obese by the year 2020? – Don’t quote me on that), there is no excuse to get students moving and to educate them on treating their body right.

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