Many US schools don’t require physical education

Many US schools don’t require physical education

National experts recommend that elementary age children should be getting 150 minutes a week of physical education, and 225 minutes as the children enter middle school and high school. However, only two places follow those guidelines: Oregon and the District of Columbia. Only 19 states require a set amount of time and require elementary students to take physical education classes.


Back in November 2014, Clark Middle School in Friso started to make some news headlines because a football coach took it upon himself to enforce physical education as punishment to eleven seventh grade students, after already having received punishment for an indiscretion.


The additional physical punishment was for the students to run two laps around the school track while carrying a medicine ball. Then, the students would begin logrolling four times back and forth across the length of the football field. It was wrapped up with 40 push-ups.


Margie Wallis is a mother of one of the punished students:

“I think it’s extreme. I think it’s excessive, My son said by the time he hit the midline of the football field, he was so nauseated he couldn’t even see straight and was really struggling … He finished all four of those faster than some of the other kids because they were stopping to throw up.”




The 2016 Shape of the Nation report that was released by Voice for Healthy Kids says that there are many schools that withhold physical activity or use it as a punishment for students who misbehave. It also claims that about 62 percent of students are actually allowed to substitute other classes for their required physical education credits.


“The benefits of physical education ring clear as a school bell,” Nancy Brown, chief executive officer of the American Heart Association, said in a Voices for Health Kids news release. “With effective physical education, we can keep kids’ hearts healthy and their minds in gear to do their best at school every day.”


SHAPE America and Action for Healthy Kids both have some suggestions on alternatives to using Physical Education as a form of punishment.


They suggest to consider some of the following options:

  • – Train staff on alternatives to withholding recess and PE. Share tip sheets in their mailbox, take 5 minutes of a staff meeting, or send a staff-wide email to communicate the message. If possible, connect it back to your district wellness policies.
  • – Work with the school dean and social worker to develop effective consequences for students. Develop a list of behaviors and appropriate, corresponding consequences that aim to improve student behavior, self-discipline, and overall school functioning.
  • – Practice and reward compliance with rules and outcomes.
  • – Offer positive feedback and catch students doing things right.
  • – Don’t reinforce negative behavior by drawing attention to it.
  • – Hold students accountable for misbehavior.

What do you think of the Football Coach’s decision? Let’s talk here, or find me on Twitter @Become_Bright_Within

Jennifer Bauder

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