Illinois Lawmakers Consider Change For Physical Education Requirements

May 7, 2018

Credit Carter Staley / NPR Illinois

When the massive school funding formula package passed last year, Republicans asked for so-called “mandate relief,” including more flexibility in PE requirements. But now that the massive reform package has been implemented, some Democrats are trying to walk back that relief. 

Physical education shifted from a daily requirement to 3 days for a week, under the new formula. But a bill that passed through the Senate last week would mandate 150 minutes of PE for students weekly, undoing that “mandate relief.”

Republican State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington said this bill takes away local control for districts and is a step backwards.

“Last year we worked extensively to come together on a school funding bill that included a whole package of things intended to both give school districts more money and more flexibility and this would seem to undo parts of that," said Barickman. "Again, moving in the wrong direction.”

State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) is the chair of the education committee. She said this bill seems to value P.E. over other classes, earning a ‘no’ vote from her.

“If we have a shortened school week then some other class is going to have to reschedule somehow to make sure that P.E. has its 150 minutes," said Bertino-Tarrant. "You may have to take away 10 minutes from math every week, or ten minutes from English every week.”

Bertino-Tarrant also does not support the “mandate relief” that changed P.E. requirements. However, she says there is no large push to undo those mandates at this time.

The bill’s sponsor says P.E. helps children concentrate in school, and keeps them healthy. The measure moves to the House for consideration.