PE and Arts in the Schools


by David Safier

Good for the legislature. It moved a bill out of the House K-12 Committee that says schools can’t cut PE and the arts to make room for the increased requirements in math and science. (AZ House panel OKs PE and arts school bill)

For once I agree with state School Superintendent Tom Horne, who is behind the legislation.

Except . . . wait a minute! Schools that aren’t currently offering PE and the Arts still don’t have to offer them.

But at least those already offering the programs can’t cut them.

Except . . . schools already offering the programs can cut them if they can demonstrate to the Department of Ed they can’t afford to continue.

And a student doesn’t have to take PE if a parent can certify the child gets physical activity outside of school.

In other words, the legislation does . . . absolutely nothing. It’s the rough equivalent of a nonbinding resolution supporting Mother’s Day. But it gives Tom Horne a chance to show his arty, sensitive side, so when he runs for [fill in the blank], he can say he’s tough on standards but loves all that other stuff too. Legislators can do the same.

Why does the legislature waste its time with this kind of crap?

Which begs the question, why am I wasting your time on this kind of crap? My answer is, I consider it part of the job description to let you know when the legislature is wasting its time on this kind of crap.


  1. My fear with the PE and Arts bill is that it is more of a move by the legislature to increase the school day and or school year without giving schools more money.

    The AZ legislature is well known for unfunded mandates and mandates that make no sense pedagogically, morally, and ethically! (see the 4-hour English instruction for students labeled ELL)

    I support arts and PE in schools, but with the new math requirements, (which I disagree with) something will have to give, since we KNOW that schools in AZ will never be given the money to do the job right.

  2. David:
    You are absolutely right about the HB 2557. there is no teeth in it. What I’m advocating is mandatory 150 minutes in the school, not at home with a parent, but taught in school by the classroom teacher so the school district does not have to hire an additional certified PE teacher. Future elementary teachers can take a course in teaching PE at the university or be trained at workshops. When I was Assistant Professor at the University of Missouri, I taught a course in PE for future teachers. I don’t want the school districts to have any wiggle room to find a loophole in the mandate! Best wishes. Steve

  3. Dr. Gall.
    I think we agree. I’m a strong proponent of both physical activity and arts-based education in the schools. The “crap” I was referring to is the bill itself, which seems to have no teeth at all.

    Good luck in your testimony and your quest. If we get something moving toward real legislation — and funding to back it up — let me know.

  4. Hi David:
    For your information I am working with State Rep. Mark Anderson of Mesa to get a state mandate of 150 minutes of PE in the Arizona Elementary Schools. I might be able to testify during a Senate meeting in March. With all due respect, this is not crap—there are too many obese kids in our schools and juvenile diabetes is on the rise. If we can get this bill passed, the school districts will have to comply.
    Best wishes. Dr. Steve Gall