A change in Illinois law is cutting daily physical education requirements to three days per week and allowing many other students to skip PE class altogether.
“This is the sum of all fears,” said Illinois Association for Health president, Brian Van Mersbergen according to the Chicago Tribune. “The whole idea behind the law was to give school districts a way to reduce costs. It’s really an oxymoron here. We’ve passed this unprecedented funding bill, yet we’re going to reduce (PE) programming?” He added that it’s not clear how many school districts will implement the law’s relaxed PE policy.
The schools districts argue that the program cuts are a result of insufficient funds, but the cuts show which programs remain priorities. This gives many parents and onlookers pause as child obesity plagues the U.S.
“We’ve heard more rumblings from elementary districts looking to apply for waivers and even reducing down from the three days,” Van Mersbergen added, explaining that many schools are asking to stretch the law change even further.
Some Chicago school districts, like Lake Villa’s Community High School District 117 and Manteno Community Unit School District 5, are seeking waivers to let certain students opt out of any mandatory PE classes.
Other district administrators however, told the Tribune that they don’t plan on reducing their PE plans, in part because of complicated class scheduling as well as the burden of having to eliminate full time PE teachers.
The percentage of children with obesity in the United States has more than tripled since the 1970s according to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Roughly one in five school-aged children, ages 6 to 19, are obese.
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