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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Report: P.E. should be a core subject

Reading, writing, 'rithmetic and... kickball? The U.S. Institute of Medicine of the National Academies says yes, arguing in a new report that physical education should be considered a core subject in the nation's public schools.

It's an interesting thought, as Pinellas County pushes its elementary schools away from daily P.E. to more easily create planning time for core-subject teachers. (Worth noting: The change would not reduce the time spent in P.E. But most standards, including the Institute of Medicine, say daily P.E. goes a lot further for kids than longer, less-frequent sessions.)

The Washington Post links to the report, which details how P.E. has fallen by the wayside both due to budget cuts and policy decisions that have steered more school time toward tested subjects like reading and math. Since No Child Left Behind was passed in 2001, 44 percent of school administrators report significant cuts to P.E. and recess, as well as the arts. A significant number moved away from daily, or even thrice-weekly, P.E.

It's recommended that young children get at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day, but only roughly half do. The Institute of Medicine says that schools should offer these 60 minutes, or more, every day for students including about 30 minutes specifically in a P.E. class.

The consequences of kids getting too sedentary?

A lack of activity increases the risk of heart disease, colon and breast cancer, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, osteoporosis, anxiety and depression, and other diseases. Recent studies have found that in terms of mortality, the global population health burden of physical inactivity approaches that of cigarette smoking and obesity.

The Institute of Medicine calls on the U.S. Department of Education to officially make P.E. a "core subject":

Physical education in school is the only sure opportunity for all school-aged students to access health-enhancing physical activity and the only school subject area that provides education to ensure that students develop knowledge, skills, and motivation to engage in health-enhancing physical activity for life.

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 29, 2013 12:35pm]


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