A letter about exercise as punishment from Bonnie Mohnsen, Ph.D., Coordinator, Physical Education/Health Education-Nutrition, Montebello Unified School District, Intructional Services Division, Montebello, Ca. to Bill Honig, Superintendent, California State Department of Education
August 4, 1989

Dr. Bill Honig, Superintendent
State Department of Education
721 Capitol Mall
Sacramento, CA 94244-2720

Dear Dr. Honig:

I have been following with great interest the articles on using "Exercise As Punishment" in the Sacramento Bee. After reading the first article containing quotes from coaches who still insist on using exercise to punish a student, I thought to myself how fortunate we are to have a law which prohibits this type of action and a State Department of Education which issues an advisory informing individuals of the implications. I have personally seen physical education teachers who force students to run laps, do push-ups, or squat with their knees bent at a ninety degree angle for several minutes. I have been able to show these individuals the State Department's Advisory and it was the one item which made them think twice.

I then read the second article in the Sacramento Bee. Fortunately, the majority of physical educators in this State disagree with your recent position. The California Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance issued a position paper in 1987 against the use of physical activity as punishment. Not only are we against the physical and psychological damage imposed on the child, but we want children to see exercise as joyful and rewarding. There are many disciplinary measures available to teachers. Exercise as punishment is not an appropriate choice. As stated in the position paper, "Teachers do not punish children with reading and then expect them to develop a joy for reading."

I sincerely hope that you will reevaluate your position. We need an educational and legal commitment against the use of exercise as punishment, so that the few individuals who still insist upon using it can be persuaded to change their methods.

Bonnie Mohnsen, Ph.D.
Coordinator, Physical Education/Health Education-Nutrition

cc: Milton Wilson
Jordan Riak
Kathy Scott
Jim Sanders, Sacramento Bee

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