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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
National Association for Sport and Physical Education Honors Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) and Congressman Jim Gerlach (R-PA 6th) for Commitment to Quality Physical Education in Schools
RESTON, VA, March 29, 2012 – For their leadership in advocating for quality school-based physical education and physical activity programs in schools, the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) is honoring Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) and Congressman Jim Gerlach (R-PA 6th) each with the 2nd annual SPEAK Out! Day Award at a luncheon today on Capitol Hill. Physical education teachers from around the country have come to Washington, DC to make physical education programs a bigger priority in schools as part of the organization's 4th annual SPEAK Out! Day. NASPE created the award to recognize federal legislators who have demonstrated their commitment and leadership in "speaking out" for physical education and physical activity. Past recipients include Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) and Representative Ron Kind (D-WI 3rd).
A former school teacher and coach, Senator Casey has showcased his support for quality physical education, physical activity, and health education to be implemented in schools across the country by introducing an amendment to the Senate's Elementary and Secondary Education Act Reauthorization (ESEA). In the fall of last year, he drafted an amendment which would establish a "well-rounded" education fund where states and districts can apply for funding in 11 different subjects, including physical education and health education. The amendment encourages partnerships with non-profit organizations, institutions of higher education or other state education agencies.
Representative Gerlach is an original sponsor of the Fitness Integrated with Teaching (FIT) Kids Act. The FIT Kids Act requires schools, districts, and states to provide information on the status of their physical education programs to be shared with parents and the community. It also supports professional development for physical education teachers and funds a study to examine the link between physical activity and academic achievement.
This year's delegation of physical education advocates, which includes members of NASPE's Corporate Council (Polar, School Specialty, and SPARK), are meeting with members of the U.S. Congress for the passage of two legislative initiatives that will help children and youth become more physically fit:
(1) Continue funding of the Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP) Bill, which provides grants to school districts and community-based organizations to support innovative physical education and activity methods. PEP is the only federal funding dedicated to physical education. To date, nearly $800 million in PEP grants have been distributed across the country by the U.S. Department of Education.
(2) Ask the Senate to support the bipartisan ESEA reauthorization bill that was approved by the Senate HELP Committee and includes physical education and health education as part of a "well-rounded" education. Ask the House to extend any flexibility of federal funding of ESEA to include physical education, either by designating it as a core subject or including it as an allowable use of funds.
"In this budget-cutting environment on Capitol Hill, our goal is to educate legislators about the many benefits of children and youth being physically educated," says Carly Braxton, senior manager of government relations. "Not only are children and youth more physically fit, but research shows quality physical activity is linked to improved academic achievement as well. It's imperative that members of Congress understand the adverse impact of sedentary living and appreciate the positive economic outcomes of healthier, more active lifestyles."
For more details on SPEAK Out! Day 2012, visit NASPE's events page.