A California appellate court ruled last week that parents can sue if their children’s schools do not provide sufficient time for physical education. In California, that means a minimum of 200 minutes of PE every ten days for k-5 children and 400 minutes each ten days for middle and high school age children. That translates to a meager 20 minutes per day for young children and 40 minutes per day for teens. Keep in mind that the courts do not even require physical activity: the PE can include lectures, games or discussions about nutrition, physical fitness and good sportsmanship.
A study last year found that more than half of schools surveyed were failing to provide even this modicum of physical activity for their students. Hilary McLean, a spokesperson for the department of education, said that budget cuts have prevented them from monitoring schools for compliance. However, with increasing pressure for schools to raise their API, many are cutting or reducing programs like PE to make room for more test preparation and reading and math support classes. If we really want to fight obesity, abolishing NCLB would be far cheaper and more effective than congress’ plan to add a few cents per student to the free and reduced lunch program.