A school that puts physical education first

Physical education comes first at Urban Dove Team Charter School in a low-income Brooklyn neighborhood, reports CBS News. High school students spend the first three hours of every day working out with their team mates and coaches.

They play basketball, lift weights, jump rope, use punching bags, ride bikes, and do yoga. Students rotate sports depending on the season.

. . . When kids go to Social Studies, English and Math, their coaches go with them . . . sitting in class, helping with homework, and sorting out problems.

If a student walks out of class, coach Alana Arthurs follows to ask “What’s wrong?” She wants to know “how can I get you back in the classroom so you can continue to learn.”

Ninety-three percent of students come from low-income families; one third are in special education. The school recruits “overage/under-credited students” with poor attendance records.

Jai Nanda developed the school after running an after-school sports program for inner-city kids, Urban Dove. He saw teens who’d attend school only if they were playing on a sports team. When the season ended, they stopped showing up.

Three hours a day for sports is an awful lot, but nothing else has worked for these kids.

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  1. Michael E. Lopez says:

    Three hours a day for sports is not a lot. It’s not a small amount — more like a heavy-medium amount.

    But it’s nothing particularly extreme.

    (Cue the nostalgic-sounding, cranky music)

    “When I was in school…”

    We has a 75 minute intense calisthenic workout for JROTC in the morning, before zero period, and wrestling practice often went from 1415-1800, though cross-country practice was typically over by 1630 or 1700.

    Those were good days… good days that you’d come home aching and tired in a pleasant way.

  2. Roger Sweeny says:

    What a strange idea, treating different people in different ways.

    Seriously, if it works, I’m for it.

    • In the context of the district system it is a strange idea. In the context of a charter, or any other form of organization that doesn’t put bureaucratic concerns first, an inevitability.

  3. Given the number of overweight kids in elementary, middle,
    and high school these days, 3 hours a day isn’t un-reasonable due to the fact that most kids today spend far more time playing video games, talking on the phone, text messaging, or other sedentary activities.

    I spent 2.5 hours walking this morning, probably 30 minutes lifting weights, and an hour cleaning.

    Physical Education should be mandatory at every grade level, unless you’re participating in a team or recognized sport at the middle or high school level.

  4. It sounds like they’re just filling all of their ‘elective time’ with PE, leaving time for them to take English, math, science, and history. Although it’s not what I’d choose for my kid, if it gets the kids through school I think it’s a great idea.

  5. Mike in Texas says:

    Their website claims they have small classes, how can that be? Gates and many other “reformers” claim small classes don’t matter.

    In addition, how much money do they have to spend that they can hire coaches to follow the kids around for several hours a day?

  6. Richard Aubrey says:

    I have some relations who work with the homeless. They also are working with a woman who simply does not get it. Took forever to convince her that, without much money, grocery shopping at the convenience store didn’t make sense. In effect, she has to be dragged through life. Somebody gave her a lawnmower. Didn’t think to get gas. Couldn’t figure out a way to get her son to do straight lines on the grass.
    People stop dragging her, she reverts.
    IOW, there are people who can be hauled into a certain level of success if you have the resources.
    But these students, in the real world….

  7. My son had a first grade teacher that took her kids on a walk first thing in the morning everyday. They also did yoga in class. When I went and worked in the classroom, it was the most calm, most focused class I’ve ever been in. It still is to this day and there were some kids in that class who were climbing the walls in Kindergarten. Some adults need a lot of physical activity…why would high school kids be any different.