New York City Schools Face PE Shortages

A large percentage of New York City schools have recently been found to be in violation of the state requirements for physical education. The report is the result of Education Department surveys during the 2012-14 school years. Scott Stringer, the New York City Comptroller, recently issued a report showing that of the 1,700 public schools in the city, 32% were lacking full-time certified PE teachers and 28% did not have an indoor area for exercise.

Stringer explained that the findings were especially alarming considering 26% of elementary aged children in the city were battling obesity. Underserved areas like East Harlem and the South Bronx are some of the hardest hit with the PE shortage and Stringer is calling on the school system to take immediate action. He suggested that an urgent system wide assessment be administered in the affected schools.

Schools are required by state law to provide acceptable outdoor and indoor physical education areas with certified PE teachers, but 149 of the area schools were found to be in violation of both requirements.

Synthia Bachman, a parent of an East Village student said that children in the school were suffering with both weight and health problems. Her son’s school doesn’t have a gym and has resorted to using the lobby in the school for PE during inclement weather.

Jason Fink, a spokesman for City Education Department believes the report is overstating the true numbers but agreed to look into the findings further.

Additional findings include the following:

  • 153,000 public school students do not have access to a gym
  • 230,000 public school students do not have certified PE instructors
  • More than 500 public schools lack licensed PE instructors

A report completed in 2011 by former Controller John Liu mirrored the recently released report though it was based on responses from fewer schools.