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Archbishop Bergan Physical Educator Headed to Capitol Hill to Advocate for Health & Physical Education
SHAPE America Members Will Ask Congress to Fully Fund Title IV, Part A of ESSA
Fremont, NE March 7, 2019 — In an effort to educate new members of Congress about the importance of a well-rounded education within the bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), Fremont physical educator Wyatt Morse from Archbishop Bergan Catholic Schools headed to Capitol Hill to advocate for full funding to support professional development for teachers and health and physical education programs in schools. Morse asked lawmakers to fully fund the federal education program Title IV, Part A, Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants, under ESSA.
Morse joined more than 150 fellow health and physical educators representing 39 states on Capitol Hill to take part in the SHAPE America – Society of Health and Physical Educators 12th annual member advocacy day, SPEAK Out! Day, on March 5-6.
When ESSA was passed in 2015, health and physical education were designated as part of a well-rounded education, making these subjects eligible for federal education funding for the first time. Under a new ESSA program, Title IV, Part A, schools will receive funding to support a well-rounded education, safe and healthy student programs, and effective use of technology. Congress funded Title IV, Part A at $1.1 billion and $1.17 billion in FY18 and FY19 respectively. As Congress reconciles appropriations for FY 2020 and beyond, it is critical that the health and physical education community continues its strong advocacy efforts for this important funding stream for schools.
“Under this block grant, we are competing with many other subject areas and programs for financial support. We need to make sure that the pot of money is as large as possible to ensure that health and physical education programs will have the chance to access at least a portion of that funding,” says Morse.
During these Capitol Hill meetings, teachers and advocates offered insight and perspective on the negative impact of marginalizing health and physical education in schools. They also shared success stories, and the links that exist between health, physical education, and social-emotional learning and academic achievement.
“I am so lucky to be at a place like Bergan where all of our teachers get tremendous support from our administration. To be able to go and be a voice for others in my profession is a great honor,” Morse said.
“This was my 7th SPEAK OUT Day, and I was just as excited for this year as I was for my very first one. I love to be able to show our congressional delegation the great things that can happen when health and physical education is supported. I know the community of Fremont takes great value in getting our youth active. We have many examples, but maybe one of the newest is the YMCA’s learn to swim. This is an awesome program that teaches Fremont’s first graders about swimming basics and water safety. This was our first year doing to program at Bergan, but it is something I hope to be able to continue doing in the future,” Morse said.
Morse also shared his school was selected as a pilot program for the new SHAPE America program Health.Moves.Minds. Bergan will join 19 other schools across the country to test out the new program focused on social and emotional learning.
Morse said of the new program, “I am excited to be able to talk about this program that has the chance to impact schools greatly. Across the state and country, we are seeing young people dealing with stress and anxiety at very young ages. This program hopefully will open everyone up to the importance of mental health. So often mental health is looked at in a negative way, hopefully through this program it will change some perceptions.”
The Health.Moves.Minds program at Bergan will be for all students kindergarten through 6th grade. The physical active lessons will be taught through Morse’s PE classes. The main focus areas will be kindness for grades K-2, mindfulness in grades 3-5, and empowerment in grade 6. Topics will cover: tolerance, acceptance and empathy, stress management, self-care, relationships and communication.
SHAPE America’s Director, Public Policy and Advocacy Carly Wright says it is critical to fund Title IV, Part A at a meaningful level as many state’s ESSA plans address student wellness, physical education, or chronic absenteeism, which is often impacted by a student’s health and physical activity habits.
“This new session of Congress brings many new legislators to Capitol Hill and new committee leadership that will oversee federal education issues. This gives us an important opportunity to develop new champions in Congress for health and physical education,” says Wright. He continued, “in turn, we must be laser-focused on cultivating a strong voice in Washington, DC, on behalf of the health and physical education community.”
In addition to pushing for full funding for Title IV, Part A, advocates asked Congress to support continued funding for Title II, Part A, which supports professional development for all school employees, including for health and physical education programs.
For more event details, visit SPEAK Out! Day. See highlights from the two-day event by following @SHAPE_America and #MoreTitleIV on Twitter.
About SHAPE America
SHAPE America — Society of Health and Physical Educators is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit association and the nation’s largest membership organization of health and physical education professionals.
Our vision is to have a nation where all children are prepared to lead healthy, physically active lives — and our programs and resources support the teachers who are making a difference every day.
Through our advocacy efforts, we laid the groundwork for the inclusion and elevation of health and physical education in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). And now, we continue the fight for increased funding for these critical K-12 programs.