PEP Grant, Physical Education as Core Subject and More to be Reconciled on Senate Floor
Ensuring that America’s youth are provided with a foundation for a lifetime of wellness has moved closer to reality — bipartisan federal legislation elevated physical education to a “core subject,” and was passed unanimously by the Senate committee on Health Education Labor and Pensions (HELP), the committee with jurisdiction over federal education law.
On April 16, HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) successfully passed the “Every Child Achieves Act of 2015” out of committee. This reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) recognizes — for the first time — the importance of physical education. An amendment reinstating the Physical Education Program (PEP) was also included in the final bill. PEP is a competitive grant program which specifically spurs innovation in physical education programs.
“This is a tremendous development for the health of our nation,” said Michelle Bouchard, president of HealthCorps, a national not for profit focused on health and wellness education in high need high schools. “Our organization exists because health and physical education are being cut from a student’s school day. PE’s designation as a core subject will send an important message to schools and school districts that Congress believes in the academic and physical achievement of our students. A healthy body develops a healthy mind.”
Since 2010, HealthCorps has been collaboratively advocating with a coalition of over 90 other national, state, and local organizations to elevate physical education and health education to core subjects within ESEA.
The Every Child Achieves Act will now move to the Senate floor for a full vote. The US House Committee on Education and the Workforce passed its education bill earlier this year, but the bill has not yet been passed by the full body (the House bill does not include PE as a core subject or the PEP grant). These differences will be reconciled at the conference after both chambers pass the bill.