Boston public schools yesterday announced a plan to ramp up physical education, hiring more staff and offering gym classes in at least 12 schools that now have none.
State law requires that students are offered physical education. But because it does not stipulate how much, many students get none at all. The Boston Foundation is hoping to close that loophole, and the group says there's broad public support for the effort.
In a recent poll conducted by the foundation and health policy institute NEHI, 87 percent of 501 Massachusetts residents surveyed said the state should require at least 30 minutes of physical activity during the school day. Seventy-two percent said they thought a certain amount of physical education was already mandated.
The two organizations, which have partnered on an initiative called Healthy People/Healthy Economy, are pushing a bill that would require students to have a half hour of physical activity each school day. Note that the proposed requirement isn't for a formal PE class but could be satisfied by organized games at recess or other structured activities during class time. The House bill has not been scheduled for a committee hearing.
Physical education along with art and music "make school more meaningful for students," said Keith Mahoney, spokesman for the foundation. "It improves performance and interest."
How would time-strapped teachers fit the PE into their schedules? The foundation supports a longer school day, too, Mahoney said.
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