Organizations: Join us in Supporting PE for Chicago’s Students!

September 13, 2013

Over the past several years, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) has made major strides in promoting healthy school environments across the district, but some key obstacles remain.

Over the past several years, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) has made major strides in promoting healthy school environments across the district, but some key obstacles remain. One of the most persistent challenges facing schools CPS schools is the lack of sufficient, quality physical education (PE). The barriers that schools face vary, from a lack of available facilities or outdoor space to scheduling issues.

The CPS Office of Student Health and Wellness (OSHW) has begun laying the groundwork to address these challenges. Last year, the OSHW brought together stakeholders to create “Minds in Motion,” a strategic plan for improving the quality and quantity of physical education classes for CPS students. Next month, CPS will present this plan to the Board of Education, sharing a community-generated vision for PE and keeping the district on a path to providing quality, daily PE for every student. This is also an opportunity for us, as school health advocates, to raise our voices and help make improving PE a priority for all Chicago schools.

A stronger commitment to physical education couldn’t be more critical. Although important progress has been made in Chicago, CPS students receive far fewer physical education classes than are mandated by state law and recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Research clearly shows that healthy students learn better. Studies also show the immediate power of physical activity to improve cognition, concentration, classroom behavior and memory. With better access to high-quality physical education classes, students will be more focused and ready to learn on a daily basis while building healthy habits to last a lifetime.

Specifically, we are urging the Board of Education to:

  • Rescind the current policy that authorizes the board to excuse students enrolled in grades 11 and 12 from participating in PE courses;
  • Clearly establish the goal of providing all CPS students with access to high-quality daily PE with a focus on promoting lifelong health; and
  • Adopt a strategic plan to address challenges schools face in providing PE. This plan would include steps to ensure all schools have adequate facilities, technology and tools to implement PE, as well as a curriculum that serves as a foundation for students to thrive as active, healthy adults.

The Board of Education has the opportunity to build upon the advances that have been made in improving the school fitness environment and continue on a trajectory that values the health and wellness of CPS students.

We invite you and your organization to take action by signing on to HSC’s letter urging the CPS Board of Education to continue making strides for healthy students. Next week, we’ll post an individual sign-on letter as well.