Archive for the ‘Physical Education Budgets’ Category

Advocating for Physical Education and Student Health

Friday, March 14th, 2014

Republicans and Democrats don’t agree on much these days, but that doesn’t stop hundreds of people from going on “The Hill” to advocate for quality physical education.  And, it seems to be working!  Advocacy has helped provide federal funding for physical education and other important public health initiatives.

Two major organizations advocating for physical education are the Sport and Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) and AAHPERD (soon to be called SHAPE America).

The SFIA National Health through Fitness Day brings together approximately 150 leaders and 15-20 sports celebrities such as Herschel Walker, Mia Hamm, Abby Wambach, Peyton Manning, and Tim Brown, to fight for the Carol M. White Physical Education Act (PEP).  Many physical educators and sporting goods companies have no idea how hard this group works to provide the only federal funding for physical education.  Until you have been in a back room with Gary Player and hear the level of conversations with a Speaker of the House, it is hard to imagine all of the work, money and time that goes into keeping PEP grants funded and safe.

Last week, SPARK was on the Hill with SFIA and the celebrities showcasing quality physical education with local DC Public School (a SPARK district) students.  We are proud to be sponsors and participants of this important advocacy day.  And, if you haven’t seen the video of Herschel Walker doing a SPARK dance with the students yet, click here. This video has had over 1,600 views on Facebook! You can view more photos of the event on the SPARK Facebook page.

SPARK is in DC again this week for National Speak Out! Day hosted by AAHPERD. National Speak Out! Day provides a venue that encourages all of its members to be strong advocates for the profession and for children.  AAHPERD members, sponsors, and associates storm the Hill to meet with their district or state representatives and share with them firsthand what is going on in their home towns.  They share personal experiences, unintended consequences, successes, and possible solutions.  Members advocate for PEP funding and other critical educational issues like educating the whole child.  Educating legislators on quality physical education is essential to making an impact on the national policy landscape.

We all have to do our part to help policy makers understand the benefits of quality, daily physical education taught by credentialed specialists.  We need YOU (teachers, administrators, parents, wellness professionals, etc.) to advocate on the Hill and/or your local governing bodies (School Board and State Legislators). Won’t you join us?

Here are some helpful hints:

  • Make them smart, before you make them mad: Share the full truth, even if some of it is bad.  You can advocate year-round by sharing issues on student health (obesity) in your district.  Share the facts and results from your testing, especially now with student growth evaluations.  You don’t always have to ask for something to advocate, as a matter of fact, true advocacy is not asking, but educating! We want decision makers to know the facts about your program and school district to help them make decisions.  This gains their trust.
  • Make friends before you need them: Provide success stories from your school and share them with your representatives.  Send letters about your school that showcase the positive things you are doing with students.  SPARK salutes all of these organizations and others who work hard on behalf of quality physical education programs and their teachers.
  • Support your friends: Help friends who are advocating on your behalf.  Especially AAHPERD and SFIA in their efforts on the national level, however, there are many others including state and local supporters you have and may not know.  Seek them out and support them.  Visit their websites and send letters.

SPARK is excited to actively support initiatives that support quality, daily physical education taught by credentialed specialists.  Here are a few relevant examples.

1. Recently, publicity around the First Lady’s Lets Move! initiative has sparked enough interest that Let’s Move! Active Schools was created.  This brought together organizations across sectors to increase physical activity in schools.  SPARK signed on and is a supporting organization for Lets Move! Active Schools. We are excited and motivated to have pledged at least 800 schools to sign up and increase physical activity during school!

2. SPARK attended both SFIA and AAHPERD days on the Hill again this year, and plan to go every year!  We sponsor and assist in demonstrations to showcase quality physical education.  We speak to Legislators about what quality physical education looks like and how important it is.  We provide success stories and call on them throughout the year through sign on letters and other advocacy efforts they provide.

3. SPARK feels so strongly about this, we created an Advocacy section on our website (under Resources).  This page will assist you by providing videos, tools, links, and ideas on how to advocate for physical education and wellness programs.  Please visit our advocacy page at

SPARK is much more than our researched-based programs.  SPARK is proud to invest money, staff and time to advocate for policies that support quality, daily physical education for all!

So, won’t you join us in advocating for physical education and student health?

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Gambling with our Future, Part 2: Implications of Removing Physical Education from Schools

Monday, January 30th, 2012

Editor’s Note: This is the second part of our two-part pe-infographicseries about how physical education has been impacted by national budget cuts. To read Part 1, click here.

In our last piece, we discussed the current happenings in this political and economic milieu as they relate to the state of education and the health of our children. There is no federal law requiring schools to provide students with physical education. Nor are there incentives for schools to do so. Instead, states are allotted the power to set requirements, but school districts are responsible for actually implementing them.

With very little funding, many schools have cut physical education altogether. According to the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE), the median budget for physical education in schools across the country is $764 per year—not much. View the infographic on this White House budget page to put into perspective how much of the U.S. budget goes into education.

Why is a lack of physical education in our schools bad for our children, their future, and our nation?

PE and Academic Performance

American schools have backed away from physical education classes in favor of rigorous academic focus so that the United States can compete in a challenging and advanced global market. While this may seem like a reasonable and necessary thing to do, it does more harm than good.

According to studies by NASPE and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), attending physical education classes is directly related to better academic performance and attitude toward school. Physical activity promotes brain function and psychological well-being, reduces anxiety, and increases overall energy and attention span.

Additionally, a report released by the World Health Organization (WHO) concludes that physical activity as taught in physical education classes and school sports can help prevent risky behaviors like smoking, doing drugs, drinking alcohol, and unhealthy eating; antisocial behaviors and violence; and pregnancy. The report concludes that “There is a clear consensus that children and youth should be involved in physical activity on a regular basis, and that teaching/reward systems should encourage active participation and enjoyment by all students, not just the highly skilled.”

Less Physical Education, More Obesity

In all of this, the obvious deduction is that less physical activity equals more unhealthy children. The CDC reports that 17 percent of children and adolescents ages 2-19 are obese. That’s twelve and a half million children that are obese in America—almost a fifth of our future. This figure has tripled since 1980. Almost 34 percent of adults are obese.
Overweight and obese children are at high risk of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, asthma, low self-esteem, joint, bone, and muscle problems, and more.

Increased Health Care Spending

State and federal government may think slashing PE programs will save money. Perhaps this is true of short-term, narrow thinking. In the long term, however, decreased physical education in school means fewer healthy lifestyle choices. This leads to more sedentary lifestyles, an increased prevalence of heart disease and other weight-related health issues, and  higher health care costs for America.

PE is cost effective; $147 billion is spent yearly on obesity-related health care costs. With an upward trend in obesity, this figure can only grow. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Funds spent on teaching youth how to live a healthy lifestyle are worth billions to the health care industry and America’s tight budget.

Concluding Thoughts

By not teaching our children how to live a healthy, well-balanced life, we rob them of their well-being. Physical wellness is not just something that comes naturally to us—we have evolved in this world—we don’t have to do hard labor just to survive, we don’t live off our own land anymore. In other words, physical wellness is not inherent in our lifestyle anymore; it directly opposes it. Physical wellness requires teaching, just like learning a language that will be used throughout our entire lives. Physical education teachers “focus on the skills and knowledge needed to establish and sustain an active lifestyle” (Shape of the Nation Report).

Maybe the lack of physical education in schools is less of a gamble with our future than an outright dismissal of it.

Gambling with our Future, Part 1: An Alarming Downward Trend in America’s Concern for Physical Education

Monday, January 30th, 2012

Editor’s Note: This is the first part of our two-partpe-infographic series about how physical education has been impacted by national budget cuts. To read Part 2, please click here.

As the nation’s budget for the 2012 fiscal year is enacted  and public services across the board fear deep cuts due to the joint select committee’s (some call it the “super committee”) failure to agree on how to lower the nation’s deficit in November, it’s an understatement to say that physical education has a tall, craggy mountain to climb in the coming years to improve our nation’s health—in more ways than one.

What’s been simmering in the bureaucratic stew of budget, debt, spending, cutting, regulating, and lawmaking of late? What are the implications for our children, our nation’s future?

It’s not news to anyone that the economic climate of the past half decade has been burdensome for all sectors, especially public education. According to the White House, between August of 2008 and August of 2011, 300,000 teaching jobs were lost—that’s 54 percent of all jobs lost in local government. A recent report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that local government education lost 113,000 jobs in 2011 alone, accounting for 40 percent of job losses in government.

If automatic spending cuts are enacted for the 2013 fiscal year as a result of our polarized Congress’ inability to agree on budgetary issues, education faces $3 billion in cuts. That means additional teachers will lose jobs and programs will be cut. Historically, the first of which have been the arts and physical education.

This would throw salt on an already slow-to-heal wound: from sea to shining sea, each state is hurting enough.

The Pennsylvania Association of School Business found that 44 percent of schools reduced elective offerings and 70 percent increased class sizes. In York, PA, arts and physical education classes were cut, forcing other teachers to implement these activities into their curriculum.

In Los Angeles, physical education class sizes rose to 80 students in some cases, making effective teaching nearly impossible. Only 31 percent of California students passed a state-wide physical fitness test last year, in part because of budget cuts wiped out physical education programs. In a 2011 survey released by the California State PTA, 75 percent of California PTA members said their children’s PE or sports programs were cut or reduced dramatically.

With over a third of the nation’s youth and adult population overweight or obese, now is not the time to do away with physical education or treat it as a frivolous, useless “elective.” The Shape of the Nation Report, a study conducted every five years by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) and the American Heart Association (AHA) states:
“Physical education classes focus on physical activity—running, dancing and other movement but physical education also includes health, nutrition, social responsibility, and the value of fitness throughout one’s life.”

Physical education gives our youth the necessary tools to remain healthy in many aspects throughout their lifetime. The downward trend in America’s health is clearly related to the downward trend of American education and the attitude that PE is not a core academic concern.

What are the implications of this devastating trend? Please stay tuned for Part 2, in which we will explore the many effects suffering physical education causes.

10 Physical Education Grants for California School Districts

Sunday, April 17th, 2011

With budget cuts taking its toll on the education system in California, the physical education and health education programs are usually the first to go out the door. There are thousands of motivated individuals and groups with innovative ideas to keep physical education a priority on their campus but the public funds aren’t always available. Numerous grant programs exist to help schools get their initiatives off the ground and keep their kids healthy and fit. Here are ten grants California schools can apply for to help give them the financial jump start they need.

  1. Chargers Champions Grant Program – The San Diego Chargers are highly involved in their community, especially when it comes to promoting physical health and education. The grant is only available to San Diego County schools, so if your program is in the area and needs extra funding to get jump started, this is the perfect opportunity. The grant is open to both private and public schools, and a Chargers player will make an appearance at the official opening of the project. 82 schools in San Diego have received grants in the past for programs ranging from SPARKS equipment to outdoor fitness trails and weight rooms.
    1. Award Amounts: Elementary School – $30,000, Middle School – $40,000, High School – $75,000
    2. Deadline: 2011 application deadline TBD
  2. The Kaiser Permanente Southern California Grants Program – Kaiser Permanente is a leader in the development of our youth’s health and physical education and has an established grant program to help give low-income communities the extra financial help they need. Reducing obesity is one of their main concerns and supports both community health initiatives and low-income families through the grant.
    1. Award Amounts: Vary
    2. Deadline: Rolling
  3. One by One Campaign for Children – Amway Corporation created this grant to help disadvantaged children to LIVE (basic needs), ACHIEVE (building potential), LEARN (education), and PLAY (having fun). The One by One Campaign has helped over 8 million children worldwide and continues to offer grants to help local communities and their kids.
    1. Award Amounts: Vary
    2. Deadline: Rolling
  4. Helping Hand Fund – The All Stars Helping Kids organization offers grants for pre-k through 12th grade students in San Francisco and Los Angeles that promote academics, health and fitness, and life skills. The grants are for less costly programs that still need a helping hand financially. If you are looking for a little help to get the SPARKS gear and program onto your school, the Helping Hand Fund is a great way to get started.
    1. Award Amounts: $250-$3,500
    2. Deadline: Rolling
  5. Carol M. White Physical Education Program Grant – Although not specific to California, the U.S. Department of Education has one of the most robust grant programs to help schools jump start their physical education initiatives. The K-12 grant program aims to help initiate, expand, or enhance physical education programs, including after-school programs. They award anything from an individual Boys and Girls Club to an entire school district.
    1. Award Amounts: $100,000-$600,000
    2. Deadline: 2011 application deadline TBD
  6. Small Grant Program in Southern California – The Weingart Foundation created a small grant program to address a wide range of needs in Southern California. The focus of these grants is on small community-based organizations and large institutions serving the local area. Grants are awarded to groups focused on health, human services, and education. The requirements are fairly broad, making the grant a perfect opportunity for k-12 schools to gain financial support for their Physical Education projects. Highest priority is given to organizations addressing issues in economically disadvantaged and underserved communities.
    1. Award Amount: $1,000-$25,000
    2. Deadline: April 20, 2011
  7. Responsive Grants Program – The Sierra Health Foundation created the Responsive Grants Program to support projects improving health and quality of people living in North-Inland California. At least 30% of the grants will be awarded to rural areas and the rest will be mixed between urban and rural organizations in their 26 county funding region. With $1 million in grants available this year, the Responsive Grants Program could be a great jump start for schools in low-income communities looking to improve their Physical Education programs.
    1. Award Amounts: Up to $25,000
    2. Deadline: June 27, 2011
  8. The Phyllis Blatz Promising Professional Scholarship – The CAHPRED Foundation created a small grant and scholarship program to help improve the opportunities for female physical education teachers and female coaches in public education. The foundation also offers several awards recognizing top physical education programs, students, and teachers. If you or someone you know are looking for the extra help to become a female physical education teacher or coach in California, send in an application to the CAHPRED Foundation.
    1. Award Amounts: $500
    2. Deadline: Rolling
  9. Cheney Foundation Grants – The Bob B. Cheney Foundation is available to private, non-profit organizations in California, Oregon, and Washington. This grant is a good choice for private schools interested in creating an innovative health and physical education program. The foundation awards grants to a large variety of projects, but they mostly want to see how the project will impact the community in an innovative way.
    1. Award Amounts: $10,000
    2. Deadline: Rolling
  10. Healthy Generation Grants: Signature Program – The WellPoint Foundation & Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association created the Healthy Generation Grants to help improve the lives and health of people in their communities. Their goal is to reduce health care costs by investing in programs that help in preventative health care, such as health and physical education initiatives that have a specific goal of reducing the body mass index (BMI) of a target population.
    1. Award Amounts: Vary
    2. Deadline: May 13, 2011 and September 2, 2011

Rage Against the Political Machine

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

SPARK was born and bred in California, and while we’re proud of our beautiful beaches, mountains, deserts and diversity, when the topic turns to politics, we deflate like a leaky balloon.

That’s because when you google, “budget crisis,” you see a big picture of the Golden State with a black hole where Sacramento used to be. CA was in terrible economic shape BEFORE the great recession hit. Now, our Governor is actually talking about closing state parks, selling the Del Mar Fairgrounds and racetrack, and other extreme measures to make up for the revenue shortfall. CA is beyond broke which connotates no money to spend — we’re in debt, big debt, all the way up to the top of our surfboards.

You know the cycle. Budget woes affect schools, school budgets effect physical education (PE), and politicians begin writing non-sensical legislation. I”m embarassed to say, that a local, San Diego based Assembly-person, Mary Salas, was the ringleader for one of the worst PE inspired ideas since picking teams for dodgeball. She drafted and tried to pass a bill (AB 351) that would allow high school students to take band, ROTC, (et. al.) in lieu of their PE requirement.

This concept was popular with some parents and students, who unfortunately, don’t know the difference between physical education (a standards-based, progressive, sequential, and evaluated course of study) and physical activity. And it became painfully obvious Ms. Salas and her staff didn’t either. Either that or the idea of upsetting some influential parents was just too hard of a stand to take. I personally spoke on the phone with one of her assistants, and while he listened to reason, I was quite certain his boss’s mind was made up.
My argument? Students are physically active (at times) in band and ROTC, of course, but to draw a parallel to those programs and physical education is simply wrong. It’s the equivalent of allowing students to take band instead of Math (afterall, they march in formation, count the number of instruments) or ROTC instead of Science (guns are made of metals and consist of elements) or cheerleading instead of English (students read and write routines). You get the idea.

Now look, we all love giving students choices, and ROTC and band in and of themselves, should absolutely be a part of every high school’s program. There is no disrespect or devaluation here, I believe ALL learning and moving opportunities are important. It’s more an apples to oranges approach when you talk about equivalent substitutes.

And, with the CA high school PE requirement already limited to freshman year — and one more before graduationpresenting more “opt out options” represents a move in the wrong direction. Students need MORE quality PE, daily; not less.

Fortunately, physical educators around the state, including Arleen Hammerschmidt, Joe Herzog, Kim Butler, Ashley Wirth, Bruce Bettey, and countless others, rallied with organizations (including SPARK and CAHPERD) to fight this bill and it’s backers.

However, in the end, logic and reason prevailed. The bill was killed — DOA! A true victory for physical education and physical educators — and our supporters in health, and other related fields.

Well, California is a great place to live. We still have our budget crisis, our crazy politicians, a Governor who has trouble pronouncing our state, but that’s OK. When cornered, our people pull together and fight the madness and do what’s best for our kids. Let’s all hope we have a few parks and pennies to leave them when our latest financial mess is behind us.

-Paul Rosengard