Superintendent of PPS
501 North Dixon Street
Dear Ms. Carole Smith:
My name is Scott McDonald and as a parent I am writing to express my concerns about the lack of physical education programs within Portland Public Schools. Although I live in Sherwood, and my children do not attend the schools in Portland, I would like to draw your attention to the importance of physical activity for children.
In particular, there is a growing problem with child obesity in America today. Roughly 24% of American children and adolescents are overweight and another 17% are obese. This is due in large part to the lack of physical activity that children are engaged in. In today’s world of video games, computers, and cell phones, the best opportunity for a child to learn about exercise is at school (given the significant portion of time children spend there).
I understand that cutbacks are taking place in your schools to save money. I also realize that the school board’s primary focus is putting resources into areas that help kids achieve the criteria of meeting standardized scores. But it makes sense to have kids who are also physically educated. The chances of them performing better on standardized tests are probably higher.
Research has repeatedly shown that a quality PE program can increase student participation in physical activity as well as improve their performance in school. I have personally witnessed these benefits with my own children in the Sherwood School District.
Thank you for your attention to this important issue of keeping physical education programs active in Portland Public Schools. Please contact me to let me know that you have received my letter and to inform me of any ideas you may have.
THE RESEARCH COLLECTION
Research Collection Based on the Following Question: Why is there a lack of physical education programs in schools?
Hotakainan, Rob. “Worries Mount Over Lack of Physical Education in Schools.” McClatchy
Newspaper. January 2012. Web. 21 Nov. 2012.
Summary: Hotakainan refers specifically to my research question of why physical education programs are lacking in schools. He states the most obvious reasons why cutbacks are happening across the country is to save money. But it also talks about how childhood obesity is spiking and overall health is declining. Congress is considering overhauling its federal education law early this year and want to include language that would pressure schools to offer more PE.
Commentary: This research is important in that it explains that schools are cutting physical education programs in order to save money despite that fact that there is an increase in child obesity. But it also states there are attempts from Congress to change the federal education law to include PE programs. Congress is offering many different physical education plans in an attempt to get kids exercising more.
Vidoni, Carla. “Promoting Physical Activity During Early Childhood.” Early Child Development
and Care. 181.9 (2011): 1261-69. Web. 21 Nov. 2012.
Summary: This article focuses more on the facts of obesity in children due to the lack of physical activity. One point of emphasis of this article was to provide pre-school teachers the basic knowledge of the ABC’s of movement skills in cases where there is not a physical education program. The teachers received information on how to include physical activity in their lesson planning on a daily basis.
Commentary: This research is interesting in that it reiterates the problem of child obesity but states what some schools are doing to help combat the problem of PE cuts. Although there are is no substitute for physical education programs, the teachers in the article realize the importance of physical activity and are doing what they can to contribute.
Charles, Katrina. “Most Kids Do Not Get Enough PE.” Children’s Health. (2012). Web. 21 Nov.
Summary: Katrina talks about how schools may be cutting time for physical education to increase time for other subjects, in the hope of raising standardized test scores. Physical education is not a measurable outcome. . It touches on how physical education policies are still very vague and easily misinterpreted.
Commentary: The strengths of this resource is that These are factors that it’s the first time I’ve seen a reason for cutting the PE programs other than to save money. It talks more about doing what it takes to achieve the criteria of meeting standardized scores Schools say they’d be better off in devoting time to math and reading instead of physical education.
SLJ. “Physical Education Policies in Schools Sorely Lacking.” School Library Journal. June 2010.Web. Nov 2012.
Summary: This article talks about how there’s an improvement in the number of states that require physical education in all grade levels, but most don’t mandate a specific amount of instructional time and about half have loopholes that allow waivers and exemptions from PE classes,
Commentary: The source is strong in giving evidence on how there are ways around from mandating the required physical education hours. For example, 43 percent of states allow required physical education credits to be earned through online physical education courses. Other substitutions include interscholastic sports, marching band, and cheerleading. Also, 30 states allow schools or districts to grant exemptions or waivers for physical education.
Issacs, Stephen, Swartz, Ava. “On the Front Lines of Childhood Obesity.” American Journal of Public Health. 181.9 (2010): 2018. Web. 21 Nov 2012.
Summary: This article states that more than one third of adults in this country are obese, up from about one in ten 50 years ago. The rate for adolescents is even more dramatic, going from one in twenty 30 years ago to a shocking one in six today. Equally alarming, obesity has become a byproduct of social and economic injustice: Obesity is more prevalent in poor communities and strikes minorities most. Obesity-related illnesses strain our health care system and harm whole communities.
Commentary: Issacs and Swartz provide strong evidence that a big part of the obesity problem with both youth and adults are due to lack of physical activity. When children aren’t exposed to physical education in school, the statistics provide evidence that it’s more likely that adults will become obese.