In a piece horribly — and misleadingly — titled “Mandatory P.E. class not enough to fight fat,” the Associated Press (via The San Francisco Chronicle) tells the pathetic tale of physical education programs in the United States.
How pathetic? Think decades-old equipment, mandatory physical education with no curriculums or assessment (meaning that, if the teacher sees fit, a physical education class can consist of a ping-pong game or a class of thirty students each taking two turns clearing a high jump bar), and spaces originally allocated to gyms that are instead used as cafeterias.
Only Massachussetts and Illinois mandate “gym class” for students through twelfth grade, but “the state does not monitor schools to ensure they are meeting the daily P.E. requirement, and there are no penalties for not doing it. The Illinois General Assembly even gives waivers to districts that have financial issues or want more classroom time.”
As with anything else, there is a severe need for prioritizing and accountability.
Of course, educational reform is also a necessity, since the No Child Left Behind Act has essentially turned schools into testing centers, rather than educational instutions.