TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Shirley K. Turner requiring teachers of health and physical education in grades kindergarten through six in public schools to possess appropriate endorsement to instructional certificate cleared the Senate Education Committee today.
The bill (S2323) would require any person appointed by the board of education to teach health and physical education in grades kindergarten through six to possess a health and physical education endorsement to the instructional certificate. The bill would allow anyone with an elementary school endorsement prior to the effective date of this bill to teach health and physical education in grades kindergarten through six without this endorsement. The effective date would be in the 2016-2017 school year.
“Health and physical education is an important part of our children’s education and development,” said Senator Turner (Hunterdon/Mercer). “Requiring certification in health and physical education helps to better ensure that our students are learning about developing a healthy and active lifestyle from highly qualified teachers who are using best practices. The epidemic of childhood obesity and the lifelong effects that can linger, such as diabetes, is concerning. Furthermore, the health benefits for young children to be active are far more beneficial than just their fitness. It can help their brain function, their sleep pattern, and their overall outlook on life. That is why our children deserve to be taught about these important and sensitive subjects, such as nutrition and fitness, from individuals who have received comprehensive training.”
This requirement would not be applicable to a person who teaches SDA district kindergarten students under a contract between the SDA district and a licensed child care center or other provider.
Currently, administrative code allows elementary school teachers to teach health and/or physical education without holding a certificate specific to these subjects, as long as they are teaching the subject less than half-time. A certified health and physical education teacher receives comprehensive training and appropriate pedagogical preparation which aligns with the New Jersey Common Core Standards and national best practice standards for health and physical education training.
S2323 cleared the committee 3-0 and will now head to the full Senate for further consideration.