ISLE PHYSICAL EDUCATION
Hawaii flunks gym standard
Few requirements for students or certified teachers put the state among the 11 "worst"
Hawaii is one of the 11 worst states in meeting physical education requirements for schools, according to the "Shape of the Nation Report: Status of Physical Education in the USA."
Best and worst states are not listed, but were identified Tuesday at a news conference, Paula Keyes Kun of the National Association of Sport and Physical Education said by telephone.
"Hawaii was identified as one of the worst because it does not require certified, licensed physical education teachers for elementary, middle or high school," she said.
Also in the "worst" category were Alaska, Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Texas and Wyoming, she said.
No state meets recommended physical education requirements, despite soaring obesity across the country, the report said, but South Carolina has approved legislation making it closest to achieving the standards.
Donna Ede, Department of Education coordinator for physical education in Hawaii, said there are many challenges and some gaps in physical education, but she believes "Hawaii is doing a fine job, all things considered."
National physical education officials said the federal No Child Left Behind Act has threatened physical education, which is taking a back seat to standardized testing.
"You have to make the most out of the time you're given and think of creative extension outside of the classroom," Ede said.
National recommendations are for 150 minutes of physical education per week for elementary kids and 225 minutes for middle school students.
Hawaii requires 45 minutes per week for kindergarten through third grade, and 55 minutes for fourth and fifth grades. Instructors are asked to have active participation half of the time, Ede said.
There is no mandate for physical education in middle schools. One credit of high school physical education is required to graduate. One-half of the credit is a required lifetime-fitness physical education course.
The "Shape of the Nation" report notes the success of advocates in defeating a 2004 proposal to cut Hawaii graduation requirements for physical education.
Ede said Hawaii has five nationally board-certified physical education teachers who will mentor others at a professional development conference today at the University of Hawaii Stan Sheriff Center.
About 600 physical educators, administrators, resource teachers, public and private schools, and agencies are expected to attend.
The certified physical education teachers also provide ongoing mentoring of classroom teachers, she said.
Classroom teachers "are doing their best, for the most part," to teach physical education in elementary schools, Ede said. Out of about 186 elementary schools, she said probably 50 have some kind of structured physical education program.
AHA-Hawaii spokesman Don Weisman also emphasized the importance of physical education: "We want to instill lifestyle changes while they're in school. Even those in organized athletics become sedentary after they leave school."
Weisman pointed out that about 29 percent of children entering kindergarten in Hawaii are already overweight or obese.
Ede said, "Even if we had physical education five times a week for 45 minutes, if students went to McDonald's after school and went home and ate a TV dinner and had popcorn and soda, and soda and chips for breakfast, we're not going to make a dent."