Madonna Professor and Student Advocate on Capitol Hill

Joanna Tremble Riem Atiyeh

LIVONIA, MICH. – Recently, Joanna Tremble, Madonna assistant professor and director of the Physical Education & Health and Exercise & Sport Science programs, and Riem Atiyeh, Madonna physical education and health major, went to Capitol Hill to advocate for full funding to support teacher professional development and school health and physical education programs.  

Tremble and Atiyeh joined more than 140 health and physical educators, representing 39 states in Washington, DC, to take part in the SHAPE America – Society of Health and Physical Educators’ annual member advocacy day, SPEAK Out! Day, on February 13-14.

The pair educated members of Congress about the importance of a well-rounded education within the bi-partisan Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Tremble asked lawmakers to fully fund the federal education program Title IV, Part A, Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants, under ESSA. 

When ESSA was passed in 2015, health and physical education were designated as part of a well-rounded education, making these subjects eligible for federal education funding for the first time. The new ESSA program, Title IV, Part A, provided funding to support a well-rounded education, safe and healthy student programs, and effective use of technology. Congress funded Title IV, Part A at $1.3 billion and $1.38 billion in FY22 and FY23, respectively. As Congress reconciles appropriations for FY 2024 and beyond, the health and physical education community continues its advocacy efforts for this important funding stream for schools.

“Under this block grant, we are competing with many other subject areas and programs for financial support,” said Tremble. “We need to make sure that the pot of money is as large as possible to ensure that health and physical education programs will have the chance to access at least a portion of those funds,” says Tremble.

During these Capitol Hill meetings, teachers and advocates offered insight and perspective on the negative impact of marginalizing health and physical education in schools. They also shared success stories and the links that exist between health, physical education, and social-emotional learning and academic achievement.

“As a former public-school teacher, and current supervisor of student teachers, I have seen first-hand what funding and lack of funding can do for a student’s health and physical education experience,” Tremble said. “Fully funding ESSA provides our school districts access to necessary funds that can directly impact a student’s health and well-being.”

In addition to pushing for full funding for Title IV, Part A, advocates also asked Congress to support continued funding for Title II, Part A, which supports professional development for all school employees, including for health and physical education programs.

About SHAPE America  SHAPE America — Society of Health and Physical Educators is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit association and the nation’s largest membership organization of health and physical education professionals.

Our vision is to have a nation where all children are prepared to lead healthy, physically active lives — and our programs and resources support the teachers who are making a difference every day.

Through our advocacy efforts, we laid the groundwork for the inclusion and elevation of health and physical education in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). We continue the fight for increased funding for these critical K-12 programs.