Manhattan College Kinesiology Professor Advocates for Health and Physical Education on Capitol Hill

Shawn Ladda will travel to Washington D.C. to advocate for the PHYSICAL Act as part of SPEAK Out! Day.

Shawn Ladda, Ed.D., professor of kinesiology at Manhattan College, will head to the nation’s capital on March 12 with representatives from 37 other states to help ensure health and physical education are considered as core academic subjects under the federal education law known as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

Ladda will be advocating as part of the Society of Health and Physical Educators’ (formerly AAHPERD) sixth annual SPEAK Out! Day on Capitol Hill with more than 100 colleagues from around the country. The representatives from AAHPERD will seek additional cosponsors of the PHYSICAL Act. 

The PHYSICAL Act, which stands for Promoting Health for Youth Skills in Classrooms and Life (S.392, H.R. 2160), is the key bill, which, if passed, would designate physical education and health education as core subjects, making them eligible for federal funding under Title I and Title II. The funding would help school districts expand physical education and health education programs and professional development for teachers, leading to potential opportunities to dedicate weekly physical activity time, enhanced classroom instruction or development of creative health programs.  

The group of more than 100 teachers will also encourage continued support for the Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP), the only federal funding for physical education. The grant program has been available for the past 13 years and has awarded nearly $800 million to support the development of quality physical education programs.

“As a teacher of teachers, I see day in and day out the impact physical education has on all aspects of a student’s life, from improved academics and behavior in the classroom, to increased confidence to excel in other endeavors, both personal and academic, as well as the obvious proven health benefits of being physically active,” Ladda said. “Physical literacy is a social justice issue and it is my hope to raise awareness to this end.”

Currently only six states require physical education in all grades K-12 and many states do not provide adequate health education instruction time as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In New York City public schools, students rarely meet the mandate of time and quality of physical education.

Through AAHPERD’s 2013 SPEAK Out! Day, physical and health education teachers were able to secure sponsors of the PHYSICAL Act, which led to the bill being introduced in the House of Representatives for the first time.

Follow the hashtag #shapeofthenation on Twitter and join the conversation on Facebook, to keep up with the latest on SPEAK Out! Day. To learn about the status of physical education state by state, visit the Shape of the Nation webpage and read the 2012 Shape of the Nation Report.