September 11, 1989
Superintendent of Public Instruction
721 Capitol Mall, Room 524
Sacramento, CA 94244-2720
Dear Mr. Honig:
Recently I received copies of the articles in the July 11 and July 12 Sacramento Bee dealing with using exercise as a form of punishment for school children. Both as the 1988-89 President of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (AAHPERD) and as the Chair of the Department of Physical Education at San Francisco State University, I am urging you to consider this issue from a philosophical perspective not just a legal one.
While the use of exercise as punishment may be legal, it clearly is not wise nor desirable. At a time when the fitness of our school-aged youth is declining, it is critical that educators do all in our power to encourage the physical activity of students. Using exercise as a form of punishment is quite likely to have a negative effect on the natural desire of children to be physically active.
The California Department of Education recently chose Physical Best, the fitness education and assessment program of AAHPERD, as its means of determining the fitness level of California school children. It is hard to imagine that your office could condone the use of some of those fitness test items as a form of punishment. Using running, sit-ups, or push-ups as punishment sends a very clear negative message to California children that will stay with them into adulthood.
I strongly urge you to take a firm stand against using exercise as a form of punishment. I can assure you strong support from professional physical educators not only in California but throughout the country. In all likelihood the coaches quoted in the Sacramento Bee articles are not professional physical educators and are therefore uninformed of the severe negative impact the practice of using exercise as punishment has on children. I would hope that you would provide the leadership in educating them to appropriate forms of disciplining students by taking a strong stand against the use of exercise as punishment in the schools.
Thank you for your serious consideration of this very important issue. If I can help you in any way, please feel free to contact me.
Jean L. Perry, Chair,
Department of Physical Education
cc: Dr. Milton Wilson
School Climate and Student Support Services