When Physical Education Is Cut, Who Picks Up the Slack?
When pink slips fly, they usually land in the hands of arts, music and physical education teachers first, which is what’s happening in districts around the country. From North Carolina and Virginia to Oregon and California, districts are cutting positions from arts and PE programs as a way to make up budget shortfalls.
In Oregon, the Portland Public School District sent an email to PE teachers saying there would be substantial cuts to the K-5 and K-8 PE programs resulting from major budget cuts.
The district said cuts are not “a statement as to the value and worth of our physical education staff and PE programming.” But educators who recognize the benefits of exercise and the critical lessons movement and sports provide to children see it differently.
Craig Volimas, who has taught PE in San Diego Unified School District for 18 years, was told he might not have a job come next fall as the district tries to balance a $124 million budget gap.
As a part of cuts, the district said layoff notices are going out to 891 teachers overall and of those, 137 to prep teachers like Volimas. If PE is cut, the burden of exercise instruction will be passed on to classroom teachers while eliminating their planning time.
But cutting PE will be most harmful to students, Volimas says. Physical activity is important for kids to be healthy and to reduce obesity risks, but PE also provides focus and helps increase academic achievement, it teaches students about teamwork and sportsmanship, and it increases attention and brain function through When Physical Education Is Cut, Who Picks Up the Slack?: