NY Daily News original article

May 5, 2015

Hundreds of city schools are dropping the ball when it comes to physical education for kids, the Daily News has learned.

A report to be issued Tuesday by city Controller Scott Stringer found 32% of the city’s 1,700 public schools had no full-time, certified gym teachers and 28% had no indoor space for physical exercise.

Stringer called the situation a violation of state phys ed requirements that’s harmful to kids in a city where 26% of students in grades kindergarten through eight are struggling with obesity.

“Thousands of kids — especially in East Harlem, the South Bronx and other underserved areas — have been left on the bench,” said Stringer. The school system “should immediately conduct a systemwide assessment of physical education in these schools.”

The controller’s report was based on city Education Department surveys of school leaders from 2012-14. It found that 149 city schools lacked both a gym and a full-time certified gym teacher.

Eighty percent of the schools that lacked either were co-located with other schools in shared buildings.

State law requires all schools to have adequate indoor and outdoor facilities for phys ed and for the subject to be taught — or supervised — by certified instructors.

But parents and students at three city schools visited by the Daily News on Friday reported that they had no gyms and no gym teachers.

“All our kids are dealing with health and weight issues,” said Synthia Bachman, 42, a programmer from Manhattan whose son attends the Children’s Workshop School in the East Village.

Kids and parents at the the Children’s Workshop School said the school has no gym. Students said they use an adjacent playground for exercise when the weather is good and the school’s lobby for gym class in the winter.

Students and parents at Public School 155 and the Gotham Professional Arts Academy in Brooklyn also reported having no dedicated gym space or certified gym teachers.

City Education Department spokesman Jason Fink said Stringer’s report overstated the number of schools without space for physical education but added that the agency will review the report’s findings.

But Stringer’s report echoes a 2011 investigation by then-Controller John Liu, who reported similar findings in a smaller sample of city schools.  State education officials didn’t respond to a request for comment on the report.

An investigation into physical education resources at city schools by Controller Scott Stringer found:

-507 city schools don’t have licensed PE teachers, including 59% of elementary schools

-435 city schools lack gyms or dedicated physical fitness spaces, including 41% of high schools and 35% of middle schools

-Roughly 46% 519 DOE buildings with co-located schools have schools with no physical fitness spaces

-Nearly 10% of city schools do not have access to an outdoor school yard or nearby park

-230,000 city students attend public schools that lack a full-time, certified PE teacher

-153,000 city students attend public schools that don’t have gyms or dedicated physical fitness spaces

Source: Report “Dropping the Ball: Disparities in Physical Education in New York City Schools” by the Office of the New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer