City Comptroller John Liu announced on Tuesday that an audit of the Department of Education (DOE) found that many elementary schools have failed to meet state guidelines for physical education despite high rates of obese and overweight students.
According to the audit, not one of the 31 elementary schools the auditors visited met state physical education regulations for grades kindergarten through grade 8.
Liu said that this is unacceptable for the DOE and that the department must improve.
“The DOE has failed to give students the legally required amount of physical education and failed to follow its own recommendations for fighting high rates of childhood obesity,” Liu said. “The DOE is failing gym.”
In a report released in 2009, the DOE and the Department of Health warned that rates of childhood obesity were higher than the national average. The report found that 21 percent of children in grades K through 8 were obese and 18 percent were considered overweight.
The audit found that the DOE does not have an overall written physical education plan and it does not monitor schools’ compliance with their regulations.
Amy Schwartz, chair of the Task Force on Physical Education for the Women’s City Club of New York, said that she’s glad that Liu is taking the DOE to task about physical education in its schools.
“We are delighted that Comptroller Liu shares our commitment to the health and well-being of the city’s students,” Schwartz said. ““This audit should serve as further inspiration to the DOE to implement what research has shown — that improved physical education leads to better academic performance.”
Based on its findings, the audit recommends that the DOE creates, enforces and updates a physical education plan that includes all physical education requirements for schools under its jurisdiction. It also says that it should ensure that principals of these schools know the requirements and to ensure their students physical education.
In response, DOE officials agreed with five of the seven recommendations, but they disagreed with the recommendation that they monitor schools’ compliance with physical education requirements.