Chicago Public School Officals get 2 1/2 Years to Work Out Adding Physical Ed

Judy Hartnett's picture
Thursday, November 10, 2011

Chicago School Board members Wednesday agreed to give district leaders 2 1/2 years to figure out how to add daily physical education — and the up to 200 new gym teachers it would require — to the longer high school day expected to start next school year.

But some did so with reservations.

Board member Penny Pritzker said she found it “distressing’’ that Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard wanted to renew a “waiver’’ in place since 1997 that allows the vast majority of Chicago Public School juniors and seniors to circumvent the state’s daily physical education requirement.

“I think physical education is important’’ for both “physical and mental health,’’ Priztker said during a special board meeting called to vote on seeking the waiver from state officials. “I think it’s as important as the arts. It’s as important as academics. It’s important in helping young people model a well-rounded life.’’

Pritzker questioned if a two-year waiver, through June 2014, was really necessary, considering CPS officials are planning to extend the school day next school year and plan to recruit high schools to pioneer daily high school gym classes. She asked for “interim reports” on CPS plans to ensure board members wouldn’t have to “wait two years to figure out where we are.’’