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Physical Education Mandates Are Not Enough In Most States

Posted Jul 06 2012 12:22pm

From The Science Codex…..

Children need quality physical education to combat obesity and lead healthy lives. Georgia elementary schools make the grade when it comes to providing that education, but middle and high schools in the state don’t even come close, according to a University of Georgia study.

A study by UGA kinesiology professor Bryan McCullick examined the mandates for school-based physical education in all 50 United States. The results found only six states mandate the appropriate guidelines—150 minutes each week—for elementary school physical education. For older students, two states mandate the appropriate amount of physical education instruction for middle school, and none require adequate physical education at the high school level, a weekly 225 minutes for both. The National Association of Sport and Physical Education set guidelines for the amount of school-based physical education instructional time.

The results of his research were published in the June issue of the Journal of Teaching in Physical Education.

“Findings indicated that statutes were written in a manner that did not explicitly mandate school-based physical education but rather recommended or suggested it,” said McCullick, who teaches in the UGA College of Education.

Public health reforms targeted at school-based physical education are seen as a major part of the answer to the childhood obesity epidemic. This is defined by the one out of every three children who are overweight or obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Doctors, scientists, health associations and government agencies argue that a key to combating obesity is to increase the amount of quality physical education instruction given in schools.

The study examined the role of federal courts in interpreting ambiguous physical education statutes. The results revealed that courts generally don’t interfere with state legislative decisions concerning curriculum.

“This lack of a judicial safety net strengthens the need for clear legislative guidance if the statutes are to be interpreted in a way that will consistently adhere to the guidelines,” McCullick and his colleagues wrote in the report.

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