“Phys Ed and several other programs face elimination as Portland schools try to balance a $19 million shortfall.” “Cutting Phys Ed in Portland elementary and middle schools would save the district more than $6 million.” “School officials say they’ve got to cut somewhere to make ends meet.” (Mungeam) Is this the most ridiculous thing you have ever heard? Why is it that when educated, experienced, skilled adults can’t spend money effectively and stay within a budget, our schools, or rather, our kids, are the first to be attacked and punished? If these adults are incapable of being successful, then why would they want to cut back on the development of future leaders and potentially put our country, our state, our town at a bigger risk and in a deeper hole? I am not happy about this at all. Physical Education needs to remain a solid program and be unaffected and untouched within our school systems.
Why do we send our children to school? You may think this teeters on the edge of being a rhetorical question, but humor me. Of all of the reasons you could list, which one is your main reason and most common among parents? We send our children to school to get an education, yes? And the reason we want them educated is so that they can be capable of doing, being, and surviving in this world. We want them to be educated so they can grow up and have a home, a family, a bank account, and so they can pursue their dreams, reach their goals, and see their wishes come true.
A part of being successful in these things is being healthy and knowing how to stay healthy. Nearly everyone knows that the most essential factors of life are air, food, water, sleep, and exercise. These things are not only good for our physical health, but also to our mental health and intellectual growth. Our minds, and those of our children’s, need to be healthy, clear of obstacles, and ready to receive, perceive, process, and retain. Schools are already on this page, as classes start first thing in the morning, after our children have had a good night’s rest and breakfast, the most important meal of the day. Schools have even started serving breakfast to students who don’t normally eat breakfast at home, for whatever reason, and also serve lunch to refuel them for the afternoon.
Physical Education is when and where our children get some of their exercise during the day. This is important and don’t just take it from me, but listen to what was said by a 12-year-old, a mother, and a physician. “As a 12-year-old at Laurelhurst K-through-8 school, I and many other children think it is a horrible idea to cut or even shorten PE,” Michael Koukoumano said, “PE is very important because it helps kids exercise and be more active which keeps them from becoming obese.” (News) “We know that healthy kids learn better and we know physical activity helps the brain learn and we know when we take a look at kids scores in school that they are better when they’ve gotten some exercise, ” says parent Isabelle Barbour. (Harlan) “The data is clear. The science is clear,” said Dr. Minot Cleveland. “Kids that are more fit do better academically, they do better physically, so it doesn’t have to be an either or. We have to have both to work together.” (News)
Little Michael has a point. The growing number of children becoming obese is a concern and taking P.E. out of school will certainly not help things. As a matter of fact, Michael is not the only one to recognize this. “The Task Force for a Comprehensive Obesity Prevention Initiative recommends continuation of funding to the Oregon Department of Education to support physical education in schools.” (SB 931) “An alarming new study by the International Association for the Study of Obesity projected that nearly half of all the children in North and South America will be overweight by 2010.” (O’Crowley) And it is also pointed out that canceling Phys Ed from schools is responsible, to a good degree, for this problem. “There are many reasons for the epidemic of childhood obesity, including overeating and calorie-filled junk food. But much of it is due to a decline in activity, a decline that cannot be made up by organized games and practices,” said Sue Shapses, an associate professor of nutritional sciences at Rutgers University and co-director of the New Jersey Obesity Group. “Declines in physical education classes and daily recess are also to blame,” she said. (O’Crowley)
Physical Education is necessary for our kids for several reasons. When the weather is nice, or at least tolerable, P.E. is usually held outside, so in addition to exercise, our kids can get fresh air and sunshine, a source of vitamin D which is known to improve a person’s mood. The exercise stimulates their heart rate, circulates oxygen throughout their bodies, and flexes their muscles. There is more to Physical Education than getting to play and have some fun, though I must say those are very appealing qualities, but it is also a time for their eyes and their minds to rest. It is at P.E. that our children will learn how to play sports, follow the rules of the game, work as a team, and compete in a healthy, non-aggressive setting. A Phys Ed instructor, Sarah Spella said, “It’s not just the learning of the skills and building of the endurance and strength and the flexibility and the agility and the balance and all those base level things that kids get from PE, but it’s also the social interaction.” (Mungeam)
The evidence is clear. We are all, in one way or another, experts, speaking out against pulling the Physical Education programs out of our schools and risking the health and academic potential of our children. I am an expert in that I know from personal experience the effects that a lack of activity has on the mind and the body. Michael is an expert because he is one of the very kids this will affect. Mothers and fathers are experts because they see on a daily basis how well or how poorly their children’s appetites, sleeping patterns, motivation toward homework, and overall mood and attitude are when they are getting enough or lacking regular exercise and physical activity. And of course the Phys Ed teachers and doctors are experts in the knowledge they have of these effects.
The only question left now is what can be done to stop this from happening? If you have children, go to your schools and to their board meetings and speak up. Go to community meetings and press conferences and speak up. Write, call, or go in person to see the School Superintendent and speak up. Even if you don’t have children, remember that it is the next generation of leaders that we are concerned with here, and in time, this will affect you and your future in some way. So please, go and speak up. Cutting Physical Education will doing nothing to benefit our children, but will only serve to pad the pockets of politicians. It’s disgusting and it needs to be stopped!
- Phys Ed: It’s not a break from school. (charlotteshaw.wordpress.com)
- Re: Fighting Childhood Obesity: Is Phys. Ed. Enough? (whsword.wordpress.com)
- S.F. elementary schools falling short on exercise (sfgate.com)
- My Brain on P.E. (musespark.wordpress.com)
- Prevent Childhood Obesity with Physical Education in Schools by Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy (socialactions.net)