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SGMA Says: PEP Funding In Jeopardy For 2012

Date: 6/29/11

Results of Recent Study Underscore Importance of Daily PE in School

SILVER SPRING, MD – June 29, 2011 – Right now, the future of the Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP) has never been in greater jeopardy, yet there has never been a greater time of need for this program. While PEP funding for this year is secure, next year may be a different story. Currently, many members of Congress want to cut PEP from the Fiscal Year 2012 budget, but the results of a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) indicate that nearly 90 percent of U.S. high school students fail to meet the bare minimum exercise requirements for healthy living. It’s also worth noting that the $80 million target for PEP in Fiscal Year 2012 is less than 2/10th of one percent of the 2012 budget for the Department of Education!

Back on May 25, the U.S. House Education & Workforce Committee approved legislation to eliminate 41 education programs from the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) in FY2012. The list of programs to be eliminated includes PEP – a competitive grant program that gives school districts and community based organizations the resources to provide students with quality, innovative physical education. 
Again, the proposed eliminations will have no bearing on the $78 million in PEP funding in Fiscal Year 2011 which the Department of Education recently announced. The Education Department is currently processing approximately 450 PEP grant applications and plans to award roughly 70 new multi-year PEP grants later this summer. Despite the recent setback in the House, SGMA will continue to work with PEP supporters in Congress and its PE partners to preserve future funding for PEP.

“The feedback from the CDC on the fitness levels of our children is the reason why PEP is so important,” said SGMA President Tom Cove. “The PEP program is working well in the communities where the funding has been received.  The importance of PEP will continue to be a priority of SGMA’s day of advocacy next spring, National Health Through Fitness Day.”

“The PEP program is a federal initiative that is working, but, to date, it has only impacted a small number of school districts across the country,” said Bill Sells, SGMA’s vice president of government relations. “This is a great example where tax payers’ money is making a big difference. Physical health is too important to the future of America since the health of American children today will impact the health of adults tomorrow.”

“The PEP bill and funding it are so very important to the health of our youth,” said two-time Olympic softball gold medal winning pitcher Michele Smith. “PE was, without a doubt, one of the most important factors in enhancing my athletic abilities and overall health. Not to mention, it allowed me to burn off extra energy so I could focus in the classroom and be a better student. PE should be considered as important as the three R's -- reading, writing and arithmetic.”

“I challenge the U.S. Congress to do right thing and support the PEP program,” said football legend Herschel Walker, the honorary chairman of SGMA’s National Health Through Fitness Day, SGMA’s annual day of advocacy in Washington, D.C. “As a nation, we can’t afford to not fund physical education.”

“Our school has received one PEP grant, but the impact extended beyond the immediate children in our school.  It transformed the attitude toward fitness of the families of the children in our school,” said Ellen Smith, a physical education teacher at Gove Elementary School in Belle Glade, Florida.

The PEP legislation has been funded every year since Fiscal Year 2001. In all, more than $600 million in PEP grants have been distributed across the country by the U.S. Department of Education in the last ten years. 

The Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association, the #1 source for sport and fitness research, is the leading global trade association of manufacturers, retailers, and marketers in the sports products industry. SGMA helps lead the sports and fitness industries by promoting favorable public policies, fostering participation through research, thought leadership and product promotion.  More information about SGMA membership and SGMA public policy platform can be found at www.SGMA.com.

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