A group of parents who came forward with concerns about inadequate physical education programming in elementary schools is prompting the South San Francisco Unified School District to look at ways to make sure all its programs are up to standard.
At a school board meeting June 12, parents and one teacher spoke up about the lack of physical education programs in the elementary schools. The district then reached out to elementary school principals to inquire and request information regarding how, and if, they are meeting the instructional minute requirement. The majority of these schools seem to be missing marks in the physical education department, according to the email survey the district conducted.
“I was surprised,” said Superintendent Alejandro Hogan. “But also there’s been a shift in the last few years because all districts were looking at implementation of Common Core, math and language arts, so I could see how physical education could fall off the radar, but that shouldn’t happen.”
The data collected showed 44 percent of schools — four sites — are meeting or exceeding this requirement in all grade levels, while 33 percent of schools, three sites, are meeting the requirement in some grade levels, but not all. Additionally, 22 percent of schools, two sites, were unable to provide the district with specific times/minutes per grade level and do not appear to be meeting the requirement, according to a staff report. Still, this data needs to be taken with a grain of salt since only 60 percent of principals were able to respond, as it’s summer break.
“Where we are in the district (in terms of elementary school physical education) is still up in the air because the data is skewed because it wasn’t completely representative of each school site,” said board President Maurice Goodman. “It did highlight we did have some issues at some schools. There were two new principals not aware of overseeing physical education programs. It’s just a matter of the teachers understanding what their responsibilities are, principals offering support and the superintendent making sure principals are held accountable.”
California law establishes the priority of physical education instruction and Education Code Section 51210 requires 200 minutes of physical education every 10 school days for students in grades one through six, according to the staff report.
The district now plans to reinstate a past subcommittee on physical education, while recruiting new parents, teachers, principals and others to gather some information, Goodman said
“The district is not trying to look back,” he said. “We’re trying to make sure at day one (of this coming school year) they’re following ed code. Physical education programming is not only an opportunity to teach making healthy lifestyle changes, but also give them (students) an opportunity to build confidence.”
The committee’s first task is to look into if the perception that elementary schools in the district lack adequate physical education programming is real, Hogan said. Additionally, in the fall, the district’s Educational Services Department will help review the legal requirements for elementary physical education with all principals who will go over this with their staff. Principals at those sites who are meeting the requirements will be asked to share their site’s daily schedules and explain the process they used to the other principals. The department will provide principals with the physical education framework and the physical education standards, in addition to sample lesson plans and daily schedules, to share with staff.
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