The fate of the Carol M. White Physical Education Program was once again in jeopardy at the 2006 National P.E. Day.
Physical education advocates are hoping another strong showing in Washington, D.C., during National P.E. Day on May 3 will save the Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP), which President Bush has once again slated for elimination from the Department of Education's budget by 2008. As of now, any money provided in 2007 would be used to fund previously awarded multiyear grants, not new ones. An overwhelming show of support during last year's National P.E. Day - the timing of which coincided with proposals to phase out the program - led to an allocation of $73.4 million for 2006, the same amount the program received in 2005. Over the past five years, PEP has awarded more than $300 million to enhance and even sustain physical education programs at hundreds of public and private schools, YMCAs, Boys & Girls Clubs and other facilities around the country.
Now officials at the nonprofit P.E.4Life organization and the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association, which were both instrumental in the 2001 inception of the PEP grant, are hoping to convince Congress to not only save the program again but to appropriate for it a record $100 million in 2007.
To that end, SGMA has dedicated a section of its web site (sgma.com) to the cause, allowing visitors to send prewritten e-mails to their state representatives in Congress urging them to fight for the PEP grant's survival. Says SGMA president and chief executive officer Tom Cove, "PEP is critical to our nation's efforts to reverse the obesity trend among America's youth."
Indeed, in a 2004 "Report to Congress," Department of Education officials stated that "we have gained valuable insight about the field's need for assistance and guidance....Our current grantees have documented positive changes because of PEP, and we believe that future grantees will experience similar success." Yet, a 2005 review of the program using the federal government's Program Assessment Rating Tool revealed that "there has been no independent national evaluation of the program to determine whether it is effective and achieving results."