Here is Judy's recap and summary of her trip:
A Recap of Success on Speak Out! Day
On Wednesday, the 2nd of March, Speak Out! Day brought together over 200 Physical Education and Health leaders from 46 states and gave the physical education profession the opportunity to meet face to face with elected representatives on Capitol Hill.
This is my first time attending Speak Out! Day. The Nevada State SHAPE board decided to send a member to bring back and advocate for the important issues that impact our profession. As the President Elect of SHAPE Nevada, it was important for me to represent our state and be part of this important advocacy, especially in the first year of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Eight years after the No Child Left Behind Act was supposed to expire, Congress finally passed a bill to replace it. ESSA gives states more flexibility and latitude in deciding how to close achievement gaps. The legislation also includes a sizeable state block-grant program in which PE will play a big part. Our collective goal was to urge Congress to fully fund ESSA in FY2017 and specifically to fund Title IV, Part A of ESSA at the authorized level of $1.65 billion. This will allow health and PE programs to have access to significant funding. Under Title IV, block grants will be distributed to states.
Personally, our Senators and Representatives from Nevada were very supportive and grateful for the knowledge about gaining the needed money for our state. Each member of congress agreed to send a letter to Governor Sandoval concerning this information and asking him to support the appropriation of the funds in Title 4 part A. Congressman Hardy accepted an invitation to attend a physical education class as well.
SHAPE America and State Associations Have a Great Opportunity to Unite Us: New this year, SHAPE America hosted a Shape of the Nation Summit on Tuesday as part of the two-day event. It was an awesome day that highlighted state PE policy opportunities and offered a preview of the highly anticipated 2016 Shape of the Nation Report. The soon-to-be-published report gives a snapshot of PE and physical activity policies across the country. The Title IV block grants will be distributed to states under the Safe and Healthy Students program. School districts and schools will apply to their state department of education for funding for a wide range of safety, health and school climate programs, to include health education and physical education. SHAPE America and State Associations have a great opportunity to unite us all by working with each state’s Department of Ed representatives, lobbying for and applying for funding. If the state associations don’t go in and fight for that money, it will go elsewhere.
The Key to Speak Out! Day is to make it Every Day: It’s been crucial to be here this week and we all feel it was an incredibly successful 2 days, but our work collectively is just beginning. It takes time and a united force to make real change happen and we need everyone to get involved. Continue to talk daily to your peers and districts about ESSA money, write letters, tweet at @SHAPE_America and take 5 minutes to call or write your state and even federal representatives and let them know how important ESSA funding is for PE and Health. As a profession, we have so much opportunity ahead of us, and it is up to us to make PE and Health all it needs to be for our children.