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ESEA Bill Considers Support for P.E. Programs

Think back to when you first developed a habit. It may have been difficult at first, but with frequent repetition, these habits become increasingly more automatic. Problems you faced as a child such as brushing your teeth or tying your shoes have become part of your daily routine.

Exercise is no different than any of these other learned processes. To address the issue of childhood inactivity, it is necessary to ensure that positive exercise habits are first formed in childhood. Currently, 17% of children in the United States are considered obese. But, more and more school districts across the country are reporting declines in rates of childhood obesity and are beginning to require daily physical education as a way of helping to solve our nation’s obesity crisis.

Last week, education leaders from the House and Senate completed work on a final Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) bill that would include a component supporting health and physical education initiatives.

The House is expected to vote on the ESEA bill this week and the Senate vote is to follow. The following details will be voted upon: 

  • The term "core subjects" has been changed to "well rounded education subjects" in the bill.
  • "Well rounded education subjects" will receive the same access to funding as the former "core subjects" received.
  • Both health and physical education were included when defining "well rounded education subjects."
  • Title IV of the bill addresses the availability of additional funding for health and physical education under the secition on Safe & Healthy Schools and Well-Rounded Education Programs.    

However, funding for PEP grants has been merged into a much larger block grant, requiring school districts to apply for state funding. Under Title IV, funding would cover “school safety, health, technology, and supplementary programs.” Because physical activity will no longer have its own funding line, it is crucial to address state and local representatives to actively ensure that these funds are being used to encourage health and physical education programming.

As a health club owner, it is important to support funding for physical education programs nationwide by contacting your legislators about the benefits of requiring physical education in schools.

If you have any further questions, please contact IHRSA’s public policy team at  

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