Action by Full Congress Needed to Bolster Physical Activity Opportunities for US Kids
Washington, DC – The National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity (NCPPA) applauds the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee for passing Chairman Tom Harkin’s Strengthening America’s Schools Act of 2013. This legislation would reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), commonly referred to as No Child Left Behind, which expired in 2007. The bill passed through committee by a vote of 12 to 10 along party lines.
The Strengthening America’s Schools Act includes several key physical activity provisions which would help schools provide a more well-rounded education for children through several grant programs and support physical activity by promoting student success through safe and healthy school initiatives.
Specifically, the bill would promote physical activity in schools by assisting states and local education agencies to develop and implement programs and strategies that strengthen physical education curriculum. Importantly, the legislation includes a 20 percent set-aside for funding to ensure quality, evidence-based programming for physical activity, education, fitness, and nutrition. In addition, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) offered an amendment, which passed, that would require schools to collect and report data on their interscholastic sports teams and the number of male and female participants to ensure that all students, especially girls, have opportunities and access to sports.
Scott Goudeseune, President of NCPPA, said, “The reauthorization of ESEA has long been overdue. NCPPA and its member organizations look forward to working with Senator Harkin and other members of Congress to make key changes in the law to ensure our children receive a high-quality, well-rounded education that includes daily physical activity.” Goudeseune noted, “As childhood obesity skyrockets while the inactivity epidemic spreads throughout our school systems, it is imperative public and private organizations, federal and state governments, and local community leaders and parents work together work to provide opportunities for daily physical activity for our kids.”
The bill now moves to the full Senate, where it will await floor debate and a final vote. While the vote out of the HELP Committee was split between party lines, recently Ranking Member Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) has stated that he believes compromise is possible, despite what he sees as huge differences between his vision and Harkin's. Chairman Harkin hopes to bring the bill to the floor this year and would allow further amendments to be made during that process.
About the National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity
NCPPA is the leading force in the country promoting physical activity and fitness initiatives. We are a diverse blend of associations, health organizations, and private corporations, advocating for policies that encourage Americans of all ages to become more physically active.