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President Proposes No Funding for PEP in 2008

The fittest President in American history once again recommended no money for quality physical education in his annual budget. In what has become a disturbing pattern over the past few years, the Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP) was targeted for elimination in the 2008 budget released earlier this month. Since 2001 PEP has provided almost $400 million for quality physical education in schools and community-based organizations. To send a letter to Congress in support of PEP click here.

Fitter students, many of whom have access to innovative physical education classes exhibited improved social behavior in school. Physically active students are more attentive and retain more of what they are taught in the classroom. Quality physical education, often provided via PEP grants, has resulted in fit students outperforming their unfit counterparts on standardized tests. Despite all the positive outcomes realized by physically active young people, fewer and fewer schools are providing physical education to their students. A recent survey found that 95 percent parents nationwide want physical education included in the school curriculum for all students from kindergarten through grade 12.

America’s youth needs access to quality physical education to improve student academic performance and social behavior. PEP programs have a record of success in making physical education a positive experience for America’s young people. With the incidence of obesity/overweight in America continuing to rise, America needs successful programs like PEP to help reverse this trend.

Not enough parents are setting the right example at home. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) almost two out of every three Americans are obese or overweight; more alarming half of this group is obese. Obese and overweight individuals have a much higher incidence of chronic illnesses; illnesses that are a primary contributor to the rise in America’s health care costs. Schools and community-based organizations are best positioned to promote active, healthy lifestyles. PEP provides the funds needed for schools to fill the void on the benefits of physical activity.

The US currently spends 16 percent of its Gross Domestic Product on health care, significantly more than any other developed country. It has been estimated that if the U.S. could reduce health care outlays to 10 percent of GDP it could save $600 billion annually. If we ignore the overall poor health of Americans, the CDC projects health care spending will account for 20 percent of our GDP or $4,000,000,000,000 (trillion) by 2015.

America cannot continue to dedicate its resources almost exclusively on treating illness once someone becomes sick, we must start to focus more on preventing chronic illness and disease in the first place. PEP is a critical part of the solution. SGMA and its allies will ask Congress to for $73 million in PEP funding during our National Health-through-Fitness Day on March 7, 2007.

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