August 10, 1989
Mr. Bill Honig, Superintendent
State Department of Education
721 Capitol Mall
Sacramento, CA 94244-2720
Dear Mr. Honig:
As the President of the California Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, representing professionals in health education, physical education, recreation, dance and athletics, I must respond to the recent articles concerning the use of physical activity as punishment. In March of 1987, our organization issued the enclosed position statement "opposing the use of any form of physical activity as punishment in school or recreation programs."
If a child is required to do push-ups or run laps, this should be done as part of an organized program in which all children are performing these activities as part of a conditioning aspect of the program. It is necessary to have children participate in strenuous physical training to improve and maintain their physical fitness levels.
To single out students and have them perform push-ups or laps as a form of discipline is contrary to sound educational practices. It is not going to teach discipline or respect. Unruly students, required to perform acts causing pain or discomfort, are not going to change their behavior. This form of discipline will not address the actual behavior problem, but instead, create a deep-rooted dislike for any physical activity, which over a period of time will be more detrimental to the child's long-term health. That is a lot to sacrifice for what will be achieved in a few minutes of disciplinary lap running.
In reviewing the December 23, 1988 Program Advisory from James R. Smith, Deputy Superintendent, the actions permitted and those prohibited are very clearly defined. Physical conditioning can and should be done in a positive environment with a clear understanding of the benefits of such activity in promoting healthy lifestyles.
You have clearly demonstrated your desire to develop the fitness and wellness of the children of California with the "Healthy Kids, Healthy California Initiative" Healthy lifestyles depend on physically active individuals. How can you accept physical activity as punishment when one of the major components of the Initiative expects the children to be desirous of participating in physical activity.
I would urge that you seriously reconsider your plan to rescind the advisory that prohibits making unruly students do push-ups, run laps, or perform other physical acts that cause pain or discomfort.
M. Kathryn Scott
cc: James R. Smith,