K-8 Grade Physical Education Requirements in Oregon
In 2007, the Oregon Senate passed House Bill 3141 which, among many other things, mandated physical education in grades K-8 throughout Oregon. This already-once-defeated bill was promoted by Peter Courtney to fight the rising levels of obesity in Oregon children. Specifically, the bill states:
Every public school student in kindergarten through grade 8 shall participate in physical education for the entire school year. Students in kindergarten through grade 5 shall participate in physical education for at least 150 minutes during each school week. Students in grades 6 through 8 shall participate in physical education for at least 225 minutes during each school week. (OregonLaws.org, 2009, para. 1)
Other important provisions of the bill include:
- Devoting 50 percent of physical education class time to actual physical activity in each school week, with as much class time as possible spent in moderate physical activity.
- Instruction shall be a sequential, developmentally appropriate curriculum that is designed, implemented and evaluated to help students develop the knowledge, motor skills, self-management skills, attitudes and confidence needed to adopt and maintain physical activity throughout their lives.
- All teachers of physical education for public school students in kindergarten through grade 8 shall be adequately prepared and shall regularly participate in professional development activities to effectively deliver the physical education program. (OregonLaws.org, 2009)
The bill is an unfunded mandate, although some start-up money was allocated to begin the preparation for compliance with the mandate. In order to allow time for districts to prepare for the requirement, the bill is required to be implemented starting in the 2017-2018 school year.
What will be the financial impact of this bill? Many districts in Oregon will need to increase the number of hours that physical education is required because they are below the required hours. Since this is an unfunded mandate, this will put a financial strain on districts to hire new teachers or re-allocate instruction and resources for physical education. Even since the bill has been passed, the Portland School District has targeted physical education for cutbacks due to budget constraints (Anderson, 2010).
Nowhere will implementation be more difficult than in the small schools or rural Oregon. Most of these schools--in some cases one teacher, multi-grade schools--cannot hire a full-time physical education specialist to provide instruction. The “classroom” teachers’ training usually involves taking one university class in physical education as part of the certification process. This falls short of the letter of the mandate of “adequate preparation” and regular professional development activities for physical education teaching. This shortage coupled with providing more hours of physical education with “sequential, developmentally appropriate curriculum,” will require some significant financial resources and time dedication. This was realized in the bill with the July 2017 compliance deadline, yet very little progress has been made toward this as we move toward midpoint of the interim period.
What is the general financial impact on society? The argument is that less obesity and overall fitness will lessen the health-care costs and societal expenses for obesity-related diseases. Since the focus is on the youth, this should have a lasting effect provided the children adopt permanent behavior change from this instruction.
Currently there are not any know direct business contributions to support this house bill in Oregon education. Advocacy groups such as the American Heart Association and Oregon Association for Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (OAHPERD) promoted the bill and continue to provide recommendations and support for its implementation.
Unfortunately, without financial backing this bill will probably not be effective. When forced to implement the total time requirement of the bill, financially strapped districts (especially during the current wave of state funding cuts) will manufacture the hourly requirements by fudging recess time and other activities. Districts will not likely hire new physical education teachers nor adequately train existing teachers in accordance with the bill states. Instead, “classroom” teachers will be left to implement the physical education classes. The end result will be very limited effectiveness for increasing physical activity and correct physical education instruction.
Both businesses and the public will have to come forward with financial support to make this bill work, by bolstering the hiring of credentialed physical education teaching professionals. At the very least, a formalized training program needs to be implemented to help the bill achieve it’s goals.
For more information, the Oregon Department of Education web page for physical education is a good resource at http://www.ode.state.or.us/search/results/?id=21
Anderson,J. (2010 July 15). P.E. could be big loser in school budget race. Portland Tribune. Retrieved February 7, 2011, from http://www.portlandtribune.com/news/print_story.php?story_id=127913948006556700
OregonLaws.org. (2009). 329.496 Physical education participation. Retrieved from https://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/329.496
House Bill 3141 of 2007, 74th Oregon Legislative Assembly, regular session. (2007). Retrieved from http://www.leg.state.or.us/07reg/measpdf/hb3100.dir/hb3141.en.pdf