A recent report titled “2018 Healthy Schools Act Report” issued by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education has revealed that the D.C. schools have failed to meet the city’s physical education and activity requirements for students.
The students in kindergarten through fifth grade must receive at least 150 minutes of physical education on average per week, as mandated by the D.C. Healthy Schools Act. Six graders must receive 225 minutes of physical education weekly through eighth grade. Also, actual physical activity is required to constitute 50 percent of class time.
According to the report, D.C.’s traditional and public charter schools have been unable to meet these requirements since the act was introduced. In 2017-18 academic year, younger students covered on average of 91 or 150 minutes required for physical activity. Students in sixth grade received 137 of 225 mandated minutes for physical activity, as per the 2018 Healthy Schools Act Report.
D.C. Council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3), who wrote the Healthy Schools Act, was expected to submit a measure on Tuesday, asking schools that have failed to meet the physical education goals to provide a plan in order to achieve the desired requirements. Cheh will also propose that the State Superintendent’s Office assist those schools to reach the targets. On Tuesday, the council planned to vote on the amendments.
Many schools were reported to have offered 45 minutes or less of physical education per week to their students, while some schools gave no time, as per the school health profiles submitted by each school.
“To put it bluntly, following the Healthy Schools Act is not a priority for [the D.C. Public Schools] or individual public charter schools, and they’ve ignored the law,” said Joe Weedon (Ward 6), the outgoing State Board of Education member. “Neither the Superintendent’s Office nor the council have done any meaningful oversight to understand why the law is not being met or force our city’s school systems to take the necessary steps to comply with the law,” he added.
In an interview, Cheh said that data showed children learn better if they are not regimented in their academic program all day long. “It’s not just bubble tests for math and reading that are important. The whole school day is an education, and physical education is part of that,” said Cheh who is hoping that the proposed measures will push and assist schools that are not meeting the requirements of physical education minutes.