N.Y.C. Flunks PE: Students in New York City public schools are being shortchanged in physical education and interscholastic sports, says a report detailing the decline of physical education offerings in the nation’s largest school system.
The 122-page report, “Hit or Miss: Fitness and Sports Opportunities in the New York City Public Schools,” describes a 1.1 million- student system where physical education resources have dwindled dramatically.
The report by Educational Frameworks Inc., a New York-based research and consulting firm, was prepared for New Visions for Public Schools, an education reform group that works to raise student-achievement levels in the city.
In the past 10 years, the report notes, the number of physical education teachers in the system has remained the same despite an enrollment increase of 200,000 students. The researchers received survey results from one- third of the system’s schools. Among the report’s findings:
•Forty-one percent of elementary schools and 23 percent of high schools do not provide regular physical education classes.
•The pupil-teacher ratio for physical education is 730-to-1 in elementary schools.
•Only about one in 10 high school students gets to play on a competitive-sports team—the lowest participation rate of any major school district in the country, according to the report.
•Most physical education teachers in New York elementary schools are not trained in physical education and don’t have the trained supervision required by state regulations.
“The long history of neglect of fitness and sports in the public schools requires a strong message from civic and educational leaders,” said Nancy Lederman, the report’s author.
The current condition of physical education and sports programs, the report says, dates to drastic budget cuts in the 1970s. The scale-back continued into the early 1990s, when the school system’s office of health, physical education, and school sports, which served as a clearinghouse for information on curriculum and practices, was dismantled.
Recommendations from the report range include monitoring the implementation of learning standards in physical education and recruiting more physical education teachers.
New York school officials did not return telephone calls seeking comment.
Highlights of the report, “Hit Or Miss: Fitness and Sports Opportunities in the New York City Public Schools,” are available from New Visions for Public Schools, or can be obtained by calling New Visions for Public Schools at (212) 645-5100, ext. 3020, or by visiting the group’s Web site at www.newvisions.org/news.html.
A version of this article appeared in the March 21, 2001 edition of Education Week