Save Physical Education before it disappears

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In modern day, schools are tasked with the job of preparing students for their future. From career choices to speaking skills, academic classes are considered extremely important. However, there is one incredibly significant class that is beginning to be deemed less vital by many students and school officials.
This class does not teach academics, but something else of equal if not higher importance. This class does not train students for future career choices, but rather something that will affect them their whole lives. This class does not teach students to take care of themselves financially in the future, but rather how to take care of themselves physically: Physical Education.

“You only have one body,” states Jerry Dinowitz, a PE coach at Hillside Middle School. He, along with Coach Thomas West, is speaking to his 3rd Period Class about the recent loss of a sport known as Street Hockey. Progressively, Physical Education has been losing much funding, equipment, and activities throughout the decades, and for very paltry reasons.

The Physical Education teachers spend a great deal of time instructing students about a number of sport-related activities. In the process, they don’t limit their instruction to historical and rules-based contexts. A great deal of time is spent detailing how critically important safety is when engaged in all of the activities. In spite of this concentrated effort, accidents may still occur and, consequently, activities might be curtailed or eliminated. For example, Street Hockey was lost at Hillside, at least in part, because of the misuse of equipment. The stick is haphazardly held high by a student, with its blade in the air, and when that student turns around, unaware of his or her surroundings, the blade accidently makes contact with the head of another. This is only one example of a countless number of incidents that occur every year, not due to the danger of the sport, but due to the pure carelessness of a student.

Along with the loss of many sports, multiple schools have been putting less emphasis on the importance of this Physical Education. ABC News states, “Since the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act in 2001, 44 percent of school administrators have reported cutting significant time from ‘phys ed’ classes and recess, to devote more time to reading and mathematics in the classroom.” However, a study published in the Journal of Health Economics provided evidence that increasing physical education in kindergarten through fifth-grade greatly reduces the chance of obesity.

However, many schools have failed to notice this, and throughout the decades, obesity rates in America have skyrocketed. Health-stories.org, a website committed to being a reliable source for fitness, states “In 2000, and as far back as 1996, the obesity rates in America reached no greater than 24% and 19% respectively. And, if we go all the way back to 1990, 14% was the highest obesity rate of any state, at that time. [However, ] There are [now] currently 3 states in America with an obesity rate at or above 30% of their total population.” Along with this, ABC News states that 70 percent of all Americans are either overweight or obese.

Physical Education is a key component in combatting unhealthiness in minors. Whyguides states that through PE, “[Students] can learn that it is highly important to include exercise and physical activity as part of their lifestyle. Likewise, they can also learn how to stretch their physical capacities, enhance their stamina as well as develop the strength of their muscles.” This would also prevent, Physical Inactivity, the 4th leading cause of death.

Not only would P.E. better the shape of many students, but it could also improve academics. SPARK, a website ran by Teachers, Administrators, University Instructors, Program Directors, and Public Health Officials, states ““In some cases, more time in physical education leads to improved grades and standardized test scores.” In schools that are under government mandates to bridge the achievement gap, physical education can actually help improve the students’ scores.”

However, the true decline of Physical Education can be attributed to the modern system schools revolve around. Coach Thomas West, a PE Coach at Hillside Middle School, who has been teaching for more than 28 years, states, “schools today tend to be run/operated on a certain business model. Ideally, Districts want to make money or, at the very least, not lose it. Courses deemed essential and worthwhile are cultivated while others are eliminated. Years ago we had a number of vocational education classes (metal shop, wood shop, mechanical drawing, auto shop) but you have to do a lot of searching to find them anywhere today. Technology based classes are flourishing today but classes that aren’t considered cost effective get chopped.” 

Moving forward, it is absolutely essential that educational leaders and decision makers validate the necessity of quality Physical Education programs by keeping them an integral part of the FULL educational process. One thing remains crystal clear. In life, we all only have one body. A body that affects our career choices, how long we will live, how healthy we really are. What we do with and to this platform of life is purely our choice. Many things can harm it. Many things can damage it. Physical Education teaches students to recognize the boundary between what will harm the body and what will not.



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