Don’t Let Illinois Cut Daily PE

When it comes to PE, Illinois is ahead of the game. But our progress could be rolled back before we know it.

Why We Can’t Let Illinois Cut PE

Our state’s commitment to supporting children’s health and learning is under threat. Illinois’ Senate is considering weakening Illinois’ requirement for daily PE as a part of the budget compromise.

Raise your voice to tell your senator that our state’s commitment to PE, with its profound benefits for health and learning, is not a bargaining chip.

Your voice matters now more than ever in defending this commitment to the health and learning of Illinois children.

Today, Illinois is a leader in supporting children’s well-being with PE: It is one of only a few states that require daily PE for all students. This law was originally passed after World War II in response to worries that our population would not be fit to serve in the military. Since then, our understanding of the value of PE has only grown. Research shows that in addition to providing health benefits, physical activity and exercise benefit cognitive development in children and contribute to improved student behavior and self-esteem. In fact, just one session per day of PE can enhance students’ ability to learn.

Upholding Illinois’ commitment to PE is especially critical given that one in three Illinois children is overweight or obese and at increased risk for chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. High-quality PE not only provides immediate health benefits but also equips students with the lifelong skills to manage their health.

Nationally, education leaders are increasingly recognizing the value of PE. The Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015, our nation’s education law, recognizes PE as part of a well-rounded education, placing it on par with language arts, science and math. After decades of leadership in recognizing the critical nature of PE, this is not the time for Illinois to step backwards. Bills such as SB13, which would allow schools to scale back daily PE to as few as three days per week, threaten to undermine our state’s commitment to the health and academic success of Illinois children.

We recognize that compromises will be needed to pass a budget in Illinois. But we cannot afford to bargain away the lifelong benefits for health and learning that our state’s children gain from PE.

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