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Big Win for Physical Education – President Obama Signs Bipartisan, “Every Student Succeeds Act”

Last week, President Obama signed S. 1177, the Every Student Succeeds Act, which reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and replaces the long overdue No Child Left Behind law. The bill passed the Senate and House with overwhelming bipartisan support and is a big win for physical education. 

First, the law designates physical education as a part of the well-rounded curriculum (replacing core subjects), which now makes physical education eligible for Title I funding - the largest pot of federal funding for schools. 

Second, Title IV contains a new block grant program, under which physical education programs will have access to significant funding. While this means the PEP program now officially goes away, this is not surprising as we always knew that in the end, an ESEA reauthorization would consolidate physical education money somehow and physical education maintains a strong presence of eligibility through the block grant. 

It important to note that in the Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations for 2016, the Carol M White Physical Education Program (PEP) received $47,000,000, which will help fund the remaining grants and serve as a transition until the new ESEA policy goes into effect in 2017.

In addition, the new block grants are structured in a way that improve upon how physical education grants are currently distributed - the grants will be distributed by the states, which means the money will reach more schools and more important - will reach more low-income schools than funding had previously.

It is also important to note - none of these provisions guarantee that physical education is suddenly flush with cash. But these are funding opportunities that were once never available for physical education and just a few short months ago, looked like they wouldn’t be available for physical education at all. With capitalizing on regulatory opportunities and aggressive state and local advocacy, there is tremendous opportunity here to get more quality physical education in our schools.

- Press Release from SHAPE America: http://www.shapeamerica.org/pressroom/2015/every-student-succeeds-act-passes.cfm 

- White House Report on Every Student Succeeds Act: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/12/10/white-house-report-every-student-succeeds-act

- President Obama signs the Every Student Succeeds Act: https://www.whitehouse.gov/photos-and-video/video/2015/12/10/president-obama-signs-every-student-succeeds-act