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Sarah Gormley

Dr. Malcolm Campbell

UWRT 1104

April 4 2018

The Future is Up to You: What Removing Physical Education Programs Can Do to Future

Generations ​(Great title! Very Clear)

Over the past decades our culture has changed dramatically. Our nation was once a

physically active nation. Yet now it seems that society discourages physical activity. The human

race has been dependent on automobiles, discouraging people to walk or bike, increasing the

chance of a poor life-style. Yet there are many factors that affect the achievement and

maintenance of a healthy life. Young people are growing into a diverse society, which is

characterized by rapid change, inactive work and leisure activities that influence unhealthy

behaviors. From North Carolina and Virginia to Oregon and California, districts are cutting

positions from arts and PE programs as a way to make up for budget shortfalls, but by removing

these programs schools are seeing a lot of increased issues in many students. Kindergarten

through fifth grade students are showing lower academic performances in the classroom, more

and more behavioral issues, and obesity rates are rising dramatically. In the United States alone

the obesity rate in children has nearly tripled since the 1970’s. These kids are our future, what

will we do to save them? Will we sit around and watch them fail, or will we step up and fight not

only for our futures, but their futures as well.

State-mandated standardized testing has had the unintended consequence of reducing

opportunities for children to be physically active during the school day and beyond. In addition
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to shifting of time in school away from physical education to allow for more time on academic

subjects, some children are withheld from physical education classes or recess to participate in

remedial or enriched learning experiences designed to increase academic performance. Yet little

evidence supports the notion that more time allocated to academics will translate into better test

scores. In 2010, the CDC- the Center for Disease Control, conducted a comprehensive review of

the research literature exploring the association among participation in school-based physical

activity programs, academic behaviors, and academic performance. The researchers concluded,

based on their review of 50 separate studies, that “school physical activity was positively

associated with academic performance and cognitive functioning, or at least had no detrimental

effect. The study findings support the conclusion that maintaining or increasing time children

spend engaging in school physical activity does not detract from student achievement, and it may

contribute to children’s academic success” (Safe Supportive Learning, 2015). In today’s society

we put so much stress on students to make straight A’s and to get into the best college they can,

yet we don’t provide them the programs to be successful, as good as enriched learning

experiences, and tutoring, and all of that sounds students need more than just education, they will

burn out, and often times they will end up dropping out of school.

Asking an elementary aged student to sit all day long in a desk with very few breaks is

like asking a professor to let his/ her class do whatever they want for the year. It’s painful, and

almost nearly impossible. Just like the professor will start to get frustrated when their class

doesn’t do anything they ask, elementary aged students also get frustrated when they are not

given the chance to be active, and take breaks throughout the day, and so they will begin to act

out to express their feeling of frustration. They will begin to do things like call out in class,
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disturb other classmates, and get off task from what they are supposed to be working on. So now

not only is the whole class off task, the teacher is frustrated, and the children's academic

performance is decreasing because they are not putting in their best work. Studies show that the

required amount of exercise kids should get a day is at least 60 minutes of moderate- to

vigorous-intensity, but students in elementary schools today are lucky if they get 15 minutes of

recess. ​What many people don’t realize is that PE teachers will be of the first to notice any

delays, or problems in children. So when we take away these programs now the student and the

teacher struggles, because not only is the student not getting the proper help they need, but the

teacher, has to deal with daily behavior issues from the whole classroom. All in all it is a very

unhealthy and unproductive situation for everyone around.

More than a half-century ago, President Dwight D. Eisenhower formed the President’s

Council on Youth Fitness, which educates, engages, and encourages Americans to adopt a

healthy lifestyle, and good nutrition, and today Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Michelle

Obama are among those making childhood obesity a public cause. But even as almost every state

has undertaken significant school reforms, many American students are being granted little or no

time in the gym. Too many kids weigh too much, but too few states and schools require recess or

follow recommended guidelines for physical education. One in three U.S. kids is overweight or

obese, but only six states — Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, Illinois and Iowa —

adhere to standards from the National Association of Sports and Physical Education that

schoolchildren participate in 150 minutes a week of physical education. And just three states —

Delaware, Virginia and Nebraska — have 20 minutes of mandatory elementary-school recess a

day ​(Great Facts)​. At Anatola Elementary School in Van Nuys, California, not only are there no
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gym teachers, but there is also no gym. The principal, Miriam King, has relied on $15-an-hour

aides to oversee once-weekly exercise regimens for her 450 students at an outside playground.

“Sometimes, when it is raining, we just cancel,” Ms. King said (Al Baker, 2012). Researchers at

the University of Illinois at Chicago analyzed results of a survey sent to every state except

Hawaii, Alaska and Wyoming, in which administrators in 1,761 schools and 690 school districts

were asked questions about physical education policies and practices and nutrition at their

schools. Their responses were compared with information collected about state laws and school

district policies related to P.E. and recess. Those states and school districts that followed the

guidelines were categorized as “strong”; those that recommended but didn’t enforce the

suggestions were classified as “weak.” Most schools fell into neither category because they have

no regulations whatsoever, according the research, which was published in the Archives of

Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. Perhaps it’s not surprising that so few schools are embracing

the exercise guidelines. There are only so many hours in the school day, and budget cuts and

increased testing pressure means most schools decide that physical activity isn’t critical. So now

we are facing unhealthy children, who are at a risk for more than just 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. We must work together to advocate for our nation’s greatest

resource — our youth. Let’s get these kids up and active and healthy again.
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When we remove physical education programs we are really punishing ourselves.

Students are facing lower and lower academic scores and performances, there are increased

behavior outbursts in the classroom, and the obesity rate is rising rapidly. Tell me how any of

those things sound like we are preparing our kids for a successful future? When we look at our

future do we see doctors, lawyers, teachers, law enforcement officers, etc. No we see high

school dropouts looking for a way to succeed. The only way that can happen is by starting with

us, we need to provide our future generations with the programs necessary to succeed, we need

to fight for their sake. We need to give them a chance at life. Forget budget cuts, and forget

straight A students. These kids are in need desperately of a little time to themselves, time to be

social, time to be active, time to have fun. The school work will get done, teachers have an entire

year with the kids, I promise the work will get done. But maybe next time instead of assigning

that book report, why don’t we assign them an activity log to be active everyday, or a scavenger

hunt in nature. Let’s get these kids up exploring all the outdoors have to offer. Sitting at desks all

day is not cutting it, the research is here, the proof is right in front of you. Children and their

families need to be taught the proper ways of how to be healthy in physical education classes to

maintain their health across their lifespan. By incorporating in more lifelong knowledge about

health into our physical education systems, obesity rates will drop and students will do much

better in school. Those Ivy League colleges we never thought our student would get into, those

student we never thought we would see become famous someday, well now ​(Check word choice)

they have a shot. They have a shot to become successful leaders who someday in the near future

will be the ones to run our country, or the ones to save peoples lives, or educate the next

generation to come, but it all starts with us.

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References ​(Change to “Work Cited”)

Katz, David L., Daniel Cushman, Jesse Reynolds, Valentine Njike, Judith A. Treu, Catherine

Katz, Jennifer Walker, and Erica Smith. "Putting Physical Activity Where It Fits in the

School Day: Preliminary Results of the ABC (Activity Bursts in the Classroom) for

Fitness Program." ​Preventing Chronic Disease​. Centers for Disease Control and

Prevention, 15 July 2010. Web. 04 Mar. 2018.​ ​


Long, Cindy . "When Physical Education Is Cut, Who Picks Up the Slack?" ​NEA Today​. N.p., 28

Mar. 2017. Web. 04 Mar. 2018.​ ​


Westervelt, Eric. "Learning To Move, Moving To Learn: The Benefits Of PE." ​NPR​. NPR, 25

Mar. 2015. Web. 26 Feb. 2018.​ ​


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