By Amy Schwartz
At the Women’s City Club of New York, we believe that all children and young adults deserve a quality education, one that sets them on a clear path to success. But for too long, our schools have ignored a New York State mandate that all students have access to physical education — a vital piece of any student’s health and achievement.
That is why we are incredibly encouraged that Mayor Bill de Blasio, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña recently announced the Universal Physical Education initiative, which will provide all schools with a designated gym space and help close this gap by 2021.
For more than a century, WCC has advocated for improvements in the lives of all New Yorkers by seeking reforms in government, healthcare, the workplace, and in our educational system. Since 2010, we have championed efforts to hold the city public schools accountable for giving state-mandated physical education to all students.
Our Task Force issued several comprehensive reports, including an analysis of data provided by the NYC Independent Budget Office that demonstrated many schools lack adequate space for physical education, often as a result of overcrowding. Some missed any exercise space altogether.
Compelling evidence has strongly shown that school-based physical education leads to improved academic achievement, increased test scores, better student health outcomes, and improved cognitive ability and behavior.
We congratulate NYC leadership for committing funding to new PE resources to help ensure our children’s improved health and academic performance. While the Universal Physical Education initiative is heartening, we urge that our officials adequately monitor progress, and ensure that sufficient numbers of qualified professional physical education teachers are employed. We cannot continue to shortchange our children any longer.
Women’s City Club of New York