DOE re lack of physical education in schools: what, me worry?

The NYC Comptroller released yet another devastating audit of DOE, this time on the lack of compliance with state regulations on the amount of physical education that students are supposed to receive in school.  Here is the  summary: here is the is the full report.

Shockingly, the audit found that not a single NYC school in their sample complied with state law when it came to fulfilling the state physical education requirements. This failure comes at a time of an obesity epidemic among children.
The DOE official response to the audit, which was included as an addendum, is even more shocking: 

Physical Education is a subject area much the same as math, science & language arts…Though the auditors remark upon the lack of a central Physical Education “monitoring” presence, for sound reasons the Department does not centrally “monitor” compliance with NY State instructional requirements in any subject area.  Rather, our long-held policy is to empower principals to select curricula that best suit their students’ needs & to implement State subject area requirements.

Furthermore, the suggestion for centralized monitoring without defining how that would be accomplished given the scope of the undertaking – 1,700 schools attended by roughly 1.1 million students – and the severe limitations on resources, is not useful.
This is quite a radical statement.  Here, the DOE claims it bears no responsibility to ensure that the public schools under its control comply with state law.  Of course, with all the huge amount spent on data collection, it would be fairly easy to monitor the frequency that students are assigned  physical education.  DOE officials could do this through sampling student transcripts alone, which the auditors examined to confirm statements from principals.
In addition, the auditors could find no evidence that DOE had ever directly communicated to principals the state regulations on phys ed, found that several schools had no gym teachers or gyms, and the DOE had not filed the required physical education plan with the state since 1982!
The disclaimer of all responsibility on the part of DOE is a horrific statement from a city agency completely under the mayor’s control since 2002, which Bloomberg pledged would lead to increased accountability as New Yorkers would finally know who was responsible for running our schools.
And now we have the DOE’s answer, even when it comes to the city school system's violation of state law regarding our children's health and education: don't blame us!
For more on the results of this audit, see the Daily News and  NY Times.

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