“SHAPE America’s Commitment: 50 million strong by 2029”
Currently, approximately 50 million students are enrolled in America’s elementary and secondary schools. SHAPE America is leading the effort to ensure that by the time today’s youngest students graduate from high school in 2029, all of America’s young people will be empowered to lead healthy and active lives through effective health and physical education programs.
I am a pragmatic person working in the field of education. I grew up with both of my parents working in public education and I followed in their footsteps hoping to make an impact in the classroom. I have both blue collar and white collar friends from my childhood. I have worked in the outdoor industry for most of my adult life while teaching and know every small detail between bikes, boards, and hiking gear. I love being outside and on the water. I have two children that will be in school during the 50 million strong campaign time period and I don’t believe that it will succeed.
Over the past two months I have watched two outdoor industry businesses close their doors due lack of sales and poor profits. The first business to close was the bike shop that I worked at in a small town. They had a great business model and great brands that supported the shop through the good years but as e-commerce grew they couldn’t compete with cheaper prices on the internet and now the lack of people’s interest in bicycling. I worked at the bike shop during the Lance Armstrong era and continue to follow the trends in the industry today. The bike industry is having a similar image issue as is SHAPE America. SHAPE America wants to be the voice of physical education and advocacy in the United States but can’t function with their current business model from the 90’s. They have seen membership numbers decline for the past decade and continue to not meet the needs of the progressive educator. SHAPE America’s villain is social media just like my small bike shop. While SHAPE America wants to be the expert in our field, the average physical educator is being a shopper on Amazon reading reviews of products and making their own decisions based on other educators views. This has led to the popular growth of the PhysEd Twitter and Voxer communities that allow educators to be in the driverseat of setting the trends and making curricular choices. SHAPE America needs to find ways to reduce costs of membership and get educators the goods and services that are required to meet to the goal of 50 million strong. Each year I question why spend the money for membership to both SHAPE America and MAHPERD. In the past when funds have been tight, having a SHAPE membership didn’t make sense financially. I believe this same fight occurs with many educators around the country. When paying your dues it should feel like performing yearly maintenance for your amazing bike not a questionable experience at Rob’s rip off bike shop. These are things that should be part of my membership with SHAPE America.
Service that should be given to all members:
The second company that is in the process of closing its doors is Eastern Mountain Sports. I grew up getting supplies for camping trips and kayaking adventures from them since the late 90’s. These regional outdoor companies helped many of us grow our love for physical activity and exercise in our local parks and waterways. They supported the conservation groups and could help you find the right piece of technical gear for your trip. Over the past few years EMS was purchased by different venture capital groups that didn’t have a clear vision for the brand. The brand was making quality products, developing amazing designs but had financial issues because of poor decision making by their parent company. By the end of the school year most Eastern Mountain Sports locations will be closed. Could this be the same direction of SHAPE America by 2029? SHAPE America is at a point where they must change and adapt or risk being extinct in the next ten years. Who will protect the profession? Will physical education still be in schools by 2050? The next CEO of SHAPE America needs to be ready to make difficult decisions that will transform the organization and our field or they will lay the groundwork for our demise.
Key points that need to be addressed:
SHAPE America’s 50 million strong campaign will not affect change without adapting to the needs of educators. I believe that we can change the future of our profession if we get our act together before 2019. This gives us 10 more years to move towards our goal with the proper tools and developmental milestones needed to reach 50 million students. I challenge the group of educators at Speak Out Day to have candid conversations with SHAPE board members and all stakeholders that have an impact on our future. Please share with state organizations and let's find ways to support each other and develop this concept together. Hopefully, 2029 will not be the death of Physical Education in America.