AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE11 theater productions to see in Southern California this week, Dec. 27-Jan. 210 days, according to the report. Also in compliance were San Gabriel Unified, South Whittier Elementary, Temple City Unified and Whittier City Elementary school districts. Pasadena Unified School District failed to meet the time requirements. Ironically, L.A. Unified was among the first to ban soda and junk food on its campuses to curb childhood obesity. But administrators say they’ve had to sacrifice physical education while beefing up efforts to improve academic achievement. “When teachers are looking at the pressures of the day and everything on their plates to teach, I don’t think they consciously leave physical education out. It just sometimes gets pushed off the plate,” said Ronni Ephraim, LAUSD’s chief instructional officer for elementary programs. The district has launched a training program to help elementary school teachers incorporate physical education into a school day already crowded with required academic subjects, she said. LOS ANGELES – Despite its campaign against childhood obesity, the Los Angeles Unified School District failed to provide its elementary students with the minimum amount of physical education mandated by the state, a study released today says. The report, “Dropping the Ball,” found that 51 percent of 73 California school districts with elementary students failed to provide youngsters with 200 minutes of physical education every 10 days – or an average of 20 minutes a day. “Our priorities are tragically skewed,” said Harold Goldstein, executive director of the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, which examined data provided by the state Department of Education. “We’re in the midst of a severe and growing childhood obesity epidemic, and yet most of our children are missing out on even the most basic school physical-activity opportunities.” The two East San Gabriel Valley districts studied, Garvey and El Monte City school districts, fulfilled the required 200 minutes of P.E. every For example, a teacher could have students go out for a run and then calculate their heart rate as part of a science lesson. Elementary school teachers are required to devote 2 hours a day to language-arts instruction and an hour to math, in addition to science, social studies, health education and other subjects, Ephraim said. And more than half of the district’s elementary school students are English-language learners who require additional instruction. “To close the achievement gap,” Ephraim said, “we have to give kids more time.” The additional teacher training will help, but it might take the district a couple years to come fully into compliance, she said. Because the state Department of Education has been monitoring compliance for only two years, it is concentrating its efforts on bringing districts into compliance rather than issuing penalties, said Rosie Thomas, compliance oversight manager for the department. The problem is compounded by the fact that few elementary teachers have adequate training to teach physical education. Even so, schools need to make it more of a priority, Goldstein said. “Physical education is the ugly stepchild in California public schools,” he said. “There are children who need additional assistance – in learning language, for example – but that doesn’t mean the time should be taken away from physical education. … If physical education became a higher priority, students in LAUSD would do better academically. It’s not either-or. It’s both.” Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed spending $85 million to improve physical education in kindergarten through eighth grade, but the state Legislature wants to allocate that money as block grants schools could use as they please, Goldstein said. “The governor has thrown a touchdown pass,” he said, “and the Legislature is about to drop the ball.” [email protected] (818) 713-3663160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!