Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Chancellor Given Walking Papers

May 2, 2007 (GBN News): The NY City Department of Education today issued a press release announcing the selection of Chancellor Joel Klein as the recipient of this year’s NASPE Award for Achievement in Physical Education. According to the DOE, the award recognizes the Department’s “Exemplary Efforts to Improve Health and Physical Fitness of 1.1 Million Students”.

The lynchpin of the Department’s physical fitness program has been its espousal of the health benefits of walking as exercise. To advance this idea, the Department this past winter slashed numerous city school bus routes, promoting a significant increase in walking among the city's schoolchildren. And the mid winter timing of the program insured that the children’s walks would be brisk and thus even more beneficial to their health. The Chancellor, in accepting the award, stated that the success of this unique program vindicates the change in bus routes, which at the time was highly criticized.

Not everybody was happy with the selection, however. DOE corporate “turnaround” consultants Alvarez and Marsal are claiming that their firm deserves most of the credit for the award, since they were the ones that originally proposed the busing cuts. And City Comptroller William Thompson disputed the figures purporting to show that so many children took advantage of this program. A statement issued by the Comptroller’s office pointed out that only a couple of hundred thousand children were affected by the busing cuts, so “to take credit for the fitness of 1.1 million children is a gross exaggeration.”

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