SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Education Association (IEA) launched the “Keep Learning, Keep Moving” campaign to preserve daily physical education (P.E.) classes for all students in the state. A commercial featuring IEA member and Glencoe South and Glencoe West P.E. teacher, Hilary Lee, is now airing in television markets throughout the state.
Multiple studies have shown P.E. classes improve test scores, reduce stress and build healthy bodies, but Illinois lawmakers and Gov. Bruce Rauner recently made it easier for schools to cut these classes. Under legislation passed and signed into law in August, school boards can now choose for students to participate in P.E. only three days per week as opposed to five. Athletes, or students involved in other specific extra-curricular activities, can opt out entirely.
“I have been teaching P.E. more than three decades, and it’s impossible to ignore the positive effects these classes have on our students,” Hilary Lee said. “Whether they’re in the gym or outside, after working out their bodies, they’re much more ready to focus and work out their minds.”
Exercise is a key component to brain health. Reports from the Centers for Disease Control show reducing P.E. classes can be harmful to a students’ health, education and future. The IEA has also been doing work across the state introducing the concept of trauma-informed and emotionally-inclusive networks to communities. These strategies help students who bring a lot of stressors from outside of school into the classroom. Many students can’t begin to concentrate on their studies until those issues are dealt with. We know that physical exercise can actually help repair damage that’s done to their brains as a result of living in a heightened state of fight or flight.
“Students need to be given a fair chance at achieving the best education and the best future possible,” said IEA President Kathi Griffin, “By keeping kids learning, and keeping kids moving, we give them the opportunity to truly succeed physically, mentally and emotionally. P.E. classes are vital to every student’s growth.”
The 135,000 member Illinois Education Association (IEA-NEA) is the state’s largest education employee’s organization. IEA represents preK-12 teachers outside of the city of Chicago and education support staff, higher education faculty, retired education employees and students preparing to become teachers, statewide.