Below, I have included the wording of the Jefferson County Teachers Association Bargaining Contract from 2005-2010.
Section B Pupil class size after the 20th pupil day from the beginning of the school year will not exceed the standards set forth by the state in laws and regulations with maximum limits established as follows unless the teacher agrees:
For Middle SchoolGrade 6 – 29 (150-daily load)Grade 7/8 – 31 (150 daily load)Physical Education – 50
Of course if you are a PE teacher you are well aware of the class size limit. In fact, you have likely been told by an administrator at some point, “You know you can have 50 kids, right?” I have. Trust me, when you are told that, you know were you stand with your administration.
Until we receive equal treatment as our peers in the classroom, you cannot expect equal results. Quality Physical Education is dependent on reduced class size. A simple Google Search of the benefits of reduced class search will yield endless data to support this. The problem is not the data but what the school systems find more important to spend resources on, overwhelmingly they have historically chosen that it is not Physical Education.
My claim is that large Physical Education organizations, such as http://www.aahperd.org/ and NASPE need to push the unions to modify the outdated contracts. Physical Education teachers are paying union dues as well and they should be represented equally. At the state level, state organizations need to do their part. At the local level, I was advised to speak at the SBDM meeting. SBDM is the Site Based Decision Making council that is responsible for making decisions at the school. It is composed of a couple teachers, parents, and administrators. My problem is that, if I were to do this, it would create a tension between the administration and myself because it would reduce the control that they have. At my school, I would not say they are pro physical education, but they are not anti physical education. I am given some respect because I run a program that very seldom requires an administration involvement. I do not write referrals and at students are always on task. I do get a high percentage of ECE students and students who “just cannot handle the rigors of the other classes.” My classes are usually large than any other classes in the building though (maybe average of 32-37). Ideally, a class size would be 28.
Certainly, their are PE programs where students are not learning anything and teachers are simply rolling out the balls. Their are PE programs where coaches are put in that position and do more coaching during class time than teaching. In fact, the motivation for many in our field to become a teacher, was because they wanted to coach, and they saw PE as an opportunity to do so. For full disclosure, it is important for me to share that I am a coach. However, I recognize myself as a teacher first and a coach second.
Our field desperately needs help and from my view point the best fix would be to reduce class size. It is very difficult to give administration a good interpretation of what a good PE program is if they are being judged on the basis of having class sizes at 50. And I did not even go into the fact that school systems are no longer assessing Physical Education classes in annual accountability assessments. This alone is causing PE programs to be dropped from the schools.
Contact your local unions.