CCC Policy Briefing Makes the Case for More Physical Education in NYC Schools

CCC Policy Briefing Makes the Case for More Physical Education in NYC Schools

Jai Nanda, Dr. Shawn Ladda, Dr. Stephen Silverman and Brian Semonian

Physical education has both health and academic benefits for students. High quality physical education helps students develop motor skills, teaches them about teamwork, and shapes students’ attitudes and habits around health and wellness. Despite the proven benefits, many NYC public school children are not getting the physical education instruction they need and many of the public schools are out of compliance with State standards.

Our Policy Briefing on November 14, “Making the Case for Physical Education in New York City Schools,” clearly illustrated how physical education can support students’ academic outcomes and a culture of wellness in schools.

Researchers, educators, service providers, and advocates heard from experts in the field to learn about the New York State standards for physical education, what a quality physical education program looks like, and innovative ways to ensure that students are receiving quality physical education instruction.

Panelists included:

Dr. Shawn Ladda, Professor in the Department of Kinesiology at Manhattan College, and New York City Zone President of the New York State Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance. Dr Ladda spoke about the New York State learning standards for physical education and the time and frequency requirements for elementary, middle, and high school students.

Dr. Stephen Silverman, Professor of Education and chair of the Department of Biobehavioral Sciences at Teachers College, Columbia University. Dr. Silverman discussed research on how physical education supports academic outcomes and talked about the components of a quality physical education program. He emphasized that physical education and athletics are distinct, and that physical education should not be about competition or athletic skill. He also spoke of the critical role physical educators play in engaging all students in activities to build skills and promote positive attitudes toward health and wellness.

Brian Semonian, Executive Director at Phys Ed Plus. Brian spoke about his work to bring physical education to New York City schools, and some of the barriers schools face when implementing physical education programs. Key challenges he described include: administrators’ lack of knowledge about State physical education requirements; issues of staffing shortages and space constraints in small schools; and issues related to scheduling when multiple schools are co-located in one building. Brian also discussed the successes Phys Ed Plus has had in helping schools start physical education programs and School Wellness Councils, and building a culture of wellness in schools.

Jai Nanda, Founder & Executive Director of Urban Dove, and Founder, Urban Dove Team Charter School.  Jai spoke about the school’s approach to engaging at-risk students through a sports-based youth development curriculum offered for two hours every day. Students also receive intensive academic and non-academic coaching throughout the day. Jai emphasized that the physical education component at the school supports the students’ academic s and improves their attendance and overall engagement in school.

Watch a CBS News story about Urban Dove TEAM charter school’s approach to incorporating physical education and sports-based youth development into the school day.

Review slides from the Policy Briefing.


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