Posted Online: Feb. 25, 2013, 6:00 am

Letter: Act now to help save physical education in Illinois

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Physical education in Illinois classrooms is under attack.

Illinois HB161 would create a special statutory exemption allowing a single public school to disregard physical education requirements in the while all other schools and districtss will have to continue to comply. HB161 would set a dangerous precedent leading many schools to seek special provisions, and not just for PE.

This bill moves Illinois in the wrong direction at a time when the entire nation is concerned about childhood obesity. Daily physical activity is critical to fighting childhood obesity and saving the next generation of Americans from heart disease, stroke, diabetes and other serious problems.

Research has shown fit kids learn better. Cutting PE in favor of more time for academics presents a false choice that is inconsistent with educational best practices. According to research, schools that seek to increase test scores, improve academic performance and decrease disciplinary problems should increase the amount of PE -- especially for struggling students.

There is also a great deal of difference between physical education and physical activity. Physical activity provides kids with exercise while PE teaches kids how to exercise and lead a healthy lifestyle. HB 161 blurs this choice by equating extracurricular activities with classroom time.

Please urge your representative to fight childhood obesity by voting NO on H.B. 161.

Lynne T. Braun, PhD,
chair-elect,
Illinois Advocacy Committee
American Heart Association