Illinois de-prioritizes PE in school, as child obesity rises

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Illinois is changing the way students participate in physical education classes. A change in law will reduce participation requirements to three days per week, as well as allow some students to abstain from participating at all.

The Chicago Tribune reports:

The law cuts daily PE to a minimum of three days per week and, starting in seventh grade, students involved in interscholastic or extracurricular athletic programs could skip PE. Those moves and more were touted as a way to save money, but some fear the changes will push PE to the back burner of the curriculum lineup…

The change is meant to allow school districts to reduce costs associated with educating students, but the districts say the rule indicates which programs are important to the state. The change is of heightened concern as the United States battles child obesity, which has more than tripled since the 1970s, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The Chicago Tribune reports that Brian Van Mersbergen, president of the Illinois Association for Health, says the move represents “the sum of all fears,” adding, “We’ve heard more rumblings from elementary districts looking to apply for waivers and even reducing down from the three days.”

Some Chicago school districts want to take PE classes off the shelf for certain students altogether. Lake Villa’s Community High School District and Manteno Community Unit School District have reportedly sought waivers for students to opt out of any mandatory PE classes.

“The whole idea behind the law was to give school districts a way to reduce costs,” Van Mersbergen said. “It’s really an oxymoron here. We’ve passed this unprecedented funding bill, yet we’re going to reduce [PE] programming?”

It is not yet known how many school districts will implement the newly relaxed PE policy, but some district administrators told the Tribune that due to “complicated class scheduling” and a desire to retain full-time PE teachers, they have no plans to reduce physical education programs.

H/T: The Daily Caller

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