Physical Education Group Launches Advocacy Resources for Teachers
The Society of Health and Physical Educators added state advocacy toolkits to its website, which aim to help health and physical education teachers promote programs in their own schools and communities.
To better enable health and physical education teachers to successfully advocate on behalf of their profession, last week the Society of Health and Physical Educators—also known as SHAPE America—introduced State Advocacy Toolkits on its website.
The new tools comes in response to the December 2015 passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act, which replaced the existing No Child Left Behind legislation. Under ESSA, school health and physical education are included in a student’s “well-rounded education,” along with art, music, and civics, among other subjects. Previous legislation didn’t identify school health and physical education among those core subjects.
“We’ve been thrilled with the shift in terminology, the shift in conversation from just academic subjects to physical education,” said Carly Wright, senior manager of advocacy at SHAPE America. “With the transition from No Child Left Behind to ESSA … we really wanted to make sure that our members and advocates out in the physical education field were educated about the opportunities within ESSA for health and physical education.”
Wright said that this is even more important since every state’s health education standards are a bit different, as is their policy regarding school education. “We felt that since every state is really going to do things differently when it comes to ESSA implementation, we thought it’d be really useful to create an individualized toolkit for each state,” she said.
The new toolkit—available to SHAPE America members and nonmembers alike—includes state-specific information on how it stacks up against the national recommendations; areas for improvement; a list of key contacts and stakeholders; and a PowerPoint that details the basics of ESSA, funding opportunities, and implementation plans at both the state and district levels.
“The great opportunity with ESSA is that every state and district can customize a plan that fills the gaps and fulfills needs in their own programs,” Wright said.
While each state and school district looks a little different when it comes to programming and funding, the State Advocacy Toolkit will enable educators to make the most out of their own unique health and physical education plans.
When it comes to advocacy, one of SHAPE America’s state affiliate organizations, the Kentucky Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, has been a posterchild. “They’ve been able to build a really strong relationship with their state commissioner of education … to the point where their state commissioner of education is testifying before Congress about how important health and physical education is to the students and to the state,” Wright said.
The toolkits also allow teachers to advocate at every level. “There are opportunities at the school level, district level, and state level for any health and physical educator to really take this information and educate their principals, their superintendents, or their state education commissioners about the inclusion of health and physical education to ESSA and the opportunities for their programs,” Wright said.