Join Us in Urging CPS to Adopt a New PE Policy; Board Vote Delayed

December 17, 2013

CPS delays action on a new PE policy.

With the current waiver from Illinois’ daily physical education (PE) requirement expiring at the end of the year, the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) Board of Education must take significant steps towards complying with the state law by providing daily PE for all students. However, for the third month in a row, the CPS Board of Education has delayed voting on a PE policy. Local groups and parents are urging the Board to adopt a PE policy that will provide all students with access to high-quality, daily PE.

Last month at the November Board meeting, leaders of Parents United for Healthy Schools presented the CPS Board of Education with a petition containing more than 7,000 signatures from parents across the city. They called upon the Board to pass a policy at its December meeting that would provide all CPS students with access to high-quality, daily PE.

Board President David Vitale told parents that he would keep the promise he made two years ago and not ask for another waiver.

In addition to support from parents, nearly 30 organizations also support a strong PE policy.

Rochelle Davis, President and CEO of Healthy Schools Campaign says, “We recognize the challenges that CPS faces in complying with the state law. However, we are calling upon the board to pass a policy that clearly establishes the goal of daily PE for all students and that lays the groundwork for daily PE to be successfully implemented over the next three years.”

In its recent action plan, The Next Generation: Chicago’s Children, CPS has set for itself the goal of providing high-quality PE instruction for every student every day from kindergarten through high school. Historically, CPS students are provided one period of PE per week at the elementary school level, and the majority receive two semesters of PE at the high school level. For a variety of reasons, including a lack of facilities, budget constraints and the prioritization of standardized tests, PE has steadily disappeared from the school day.

According to Davis, “Research clearly shows that healthy students learn better. Studies also indicate the immediate power of physical activity to improve cognition, concentration, classroom behavior and memory. With better access to high-quality PE classes, students will be more focused and ready to learn.”

Parents and local groups urge the Board to strengthen CPS’ commitment to PE and support the mission of increasing the quantity and quality of physical education for the students of CPS by:

  • Rescinding current policy 07-0627-PO2 that authorizes the school board to excuse students enrolled in grades 11 and 12 from engaging in daily physical education courses.
  • Clearly establishing the goal of providing all CPS students with access to high-quality daily PE, supporting the district’s young people in becoming physically literate individuals with the knowledge, skills and confidence for academic success and lifelong health.
  • Implementing the following elements to strengthen PE:

    • A standards-based curriculum that emphasizes moderate-to-vigorous physical activity and serves as a foundation to teach health-related concepts and skills.
    • A comprehensive professional development program for PE teachers.
    • A performance evaluation tool that is adaptive to PE teachers.
  • Planning to ensure that all schools have adequate facilities, technology and tools to implement PE.
  • Developing metrics for both student fitness and the quality of the PE program, which would enable parents, the public and the district to evaluate and improve.

For a full list of organizations that are supporting these changes, visit: http://bit.ly/1ddODt7.

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