media
January 31, 2008

NYSUT: Put some muscle into enforcing K-12 physical education requirements

Source: NYSUT Media Relations

ALBANY, N.Y. January 31, 2008 – The New York State United Teachers today told the Assembly Standing Committee on Education that the 585,000-member union supports tighter school district compliance with state requirements for physical education for all K-12 students. A just-conducted NYSUT member survey reinforces that need.

"Research shows that thinking and learning are both mental and physical activities that help students focus," said NYSUT Vice President Maria Neira, at a New York City hearing. "In this day of mandated testing under the federal No Child Left Behind act, physical education should be viewed as a key to giving students the edge to succeed."

Neira was joined at the hearing by four physical education professionals: Joanne Hamilton from the Sayville Teachers Association, Steven Esposito from the Sachem Central Teachers Association, Gary Sprung from the United Federation of Teachers and Dr. Linda Barley, a York College professor and member of the Professional Staff Congress.

The speakers focused on their experiences that reinforced the results of a union-sponsored survey of physical education teachers to determine if school districts were complying with current state requirements.

Among the survey's findings:

  • Just over 10 percent of respondents indicated students in grades K-3 in their district receive physical education on a daily basis, as required by state regulations.
  • Less than 30 percent of teachers said students in grades 4-6 receive a weekly total of at least 120 minutes of physical education.
  • Nearly 25 percent of the respondents indicated that, in their districts, recess time is sometimes used as physical education time for grades K-6. (Recess time is not instruction time in the state's learning standards and may not be used as a substitute for physical education.)
  • Only one-third of the teachers believe their district has adequate facilities for teaching physical education.
  • Nearly 70 percent said students in grades 7-12 receive physical education at the state-recommended level, three times a week one semester, two times a week the next semester.
  • More than 80 percent indicated that students in K-6 are being taught by certified physical education teachers.

The union representatives made the following recommendations to put some muscle behind the state's enforcement of physical education regulations:

  • Include information about physical education on the school report cards so parents know if their district is in compliance with state regulations.
  • Strengthen monitoring by the State Education Department to ensure local school district compliance.
  • Create a core curriculum for physical education so there is a uniform framework for physical education instruction on all grade levels.
  • Inform teachers of the state's physical education requirements and make the requirements an essential part of training for new physical education teachers.

NYSUT represents 585,000 teachers, school-related professionals, academic and professional faculty in higher education, professionals in education and health care and retirees. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.

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