Physical education plays a critical role in educating the whole student. Research supports the importance of movement in educating both mind and body. Physical education contributes directly to the development of physical competence and fitness. It also helps students to make informed choices and understand the value of leading a physically active lifestyle. The benefits of physical education can affect both academic learning and physical activity patterns of students. The healthy, physically active student is more likely to be academically motivated, alert, and successful. In the preschool and primary years, active play may be positively related to motor abilities and cognitive development. As children grow older and enter adolescence, physical activity may enhance the development of a positive self-concept as well as the ability to address intellectual, social and emotional challenges. Throughout the school years, quality physical education can promote social, cooperative and problem-solving competencies as well as a joy of movement. Quality physical education programs in our nation's schools are essential in developing motor skills, physical fitness and understanding of concepts that foster lifelong healthy lifestyles.
In 1987 the Congress of the United States encouraged local education agencies to provide high quality daily physical education for all children kindergarten through grade 12. In 1990 the North Carolina Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance called for physical education classes in the state's public schools to be the same size as for all other subjects in the basic instruction program. Currently the National Association for Sport and Physical Education recommends all school children receive quality daily physical education, elementary school children for 150 minutes/week and secondary school children for 225 minutes/week. This has now been adopted by the state of North Carolina.
We, the Physical Education Teacher Education faculty of the Department of Kinesiology at East Carolina University, echo the concerns and recommendations of our fellow professional. We support the state and local officials in implementing high quality daily physical education for all children in grades K-12. Furthermore, we call for an end to the class size exemption for physical education and for the hiring of permanently licensed personnel for all physical education positions throughout North Carolina. We stand ready and eager to assist the state and local authorities in achieving these goals.