FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
OBSTACLES REMAIN IN CORRECTING PHYSICAL EDUCATION IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS: INDEPENDENT BUDGET OFFICE (IBO) DATA
New York – February 7, 2012. The Women’s City Club (WCC) Physical Education in City Public Schools Task Force and the American Heart Association (AHA) are joining NYC Council Members Melissa Mark-Viverito, Robert Jackson, Letitia James and Gale Brewer at a press conference on the steps of City Hall at 3:00 pm on February 7, 2013, to call on the NYC Department of Education to comply with state-mandated Physical Education (PE) in public schools.
The WCC is issuing its third report in two years calling on New York City’s Department of Education (DOE) to fully comply with New York State’s guidelines for physical education (PE) in NYC’s public schools. Earlier this year at the WCC’s request, the New York City Independent Budget Office (IBO) agreed to collect data from DOE’s Annual Facilities Survey on space usage for physical education and on teachers assigned to PE classes in each school. The IBO data offers additional insight into the breadth and scope of the issue as DOE fails to abide by the State’s minimum PE mandate in our public schools. The research concluded that in order to meet the required standards for all enrolled students in elementary schools, at least 350 more trained teachers would be needed. High schools, in contrast, have a surplus of trained PE teachers.
“These findings of inequities in the distribution of PE staff and space throughout our city schools are very troubling, ” says Amy J. Schwartz, Chair of the WCC Task Force on Physical Education in Public Schools. “At the very least, reasons for the insufficient number of PE teachers reported at the elementary school level deserve further investigation. It’s time to stop short-changing our children -- State mandate guarantees them to have a full PE curriculum, and qualified teachers.
Thirty-five City Council Members echoed this sentiment in a letter sent to DOE last year, requesting it provides the public DOE’s strategy to improve the quantity and quality of PE instruction. Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito states: “It is unacceptable that teens in East Harlem, which I represent, are nearly three times less likely to attend a daily gym class than teens in more affluent neighborhoods.”
“In August, I joined Council Member Mark Viverito in calling on the administration to bring physical education in public schools up to standard, following reports that only one in five city high school students, and 8% of elementary school students were meeting state requirements,” said Council Member Letitia James. “Today, I join Women’s City Club and the American Heart Association in recognizing that PE programs are unequally implemented, and that the existing insufficiencies in both staff and resources must be addressed particularly in communities of need.”
Evidence shows that school-based PE leads to improved academic achievement, increased state standardized test scores and a student’s health and overall well-being. PE also improves a child’s cognitive ability and behavior. Over the past few years there have been increasing calls for DOE to address the problem of insufficient PE in city schools, including a 2011 NYC Comptroller audit which revealed its failure to meet State mandates.
The WCC’s third report and the IBO data can be found on www.wccny.org
Amy J. Schwartz, Chair
Task Force on Physical Education in Public Schools
Tel: 212.353.8070, ext.202
The Women's City Club of New York, established in 1915, is a non-profit, non-partisan, multi-issue advocacy organization dedicated to improving the lives of all New Yorkers. The WCC shapes public policy to promote responsive government through education, issue analysis, advocacy and civic participation.