By Ken Reed

The pile of research that shows that regular cardiovascular-based physical education improves students’ academic performance, as well as their physical and mental health, is as high as the Washington Monument. Yet, D.C. schools are basically ignoring a physical education and activity requirement established by the city.

D.C. K-5 students are only getting 91 of the required 150 minutes of P.E. and physical activity per week, while students in grades six through eight only received 137 of the mandated 225 minutes, according to the 2018 Healthy Schools Act Report.

“To put it bluntly, following the Healthy Schools Act is not a priority for [D.C. Public Schools] or individual charter schools, and they’ve ignored the law,” said Joe Weeden, an outgoing State Board of Education member.

The state superintendent’s office said schools want to comply with the P.E. requirements but find it challenging to balance academic subjects and physical activity. The ironic part of schools’ avoidance of PE is that regular P.E. has been consistently shown to improve academic performance. It’s simply not an either/or situation. If you want better academic performance, add more physical activity to the school day.

D.C. Council member Mary M. Cheh, who wrote the Healthy Schools Act, which includes the P.E./physical activity requirements, said, “These goals weren’t just aspirational. We know academic performance improves with physical activity, and we want children to develop a practice in their life of physical activity.”

Dr. Wendy Suzuki, a neuroscientist, gave a popular TED talk on the powerful benefits of exercise on the brain last year.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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