Recognizing that physical education (PE) is the equitable way for all children to get regular physical activity, Shape Up SF convened the PE Advocates in May 2010. Shape Up San Francisco, the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD), and the University of California (UC) San Francisco/Berkeley formed a partnership during the 2010-11 school year to assess and improve the quality of physical education (PE) in the school district, with a focus on elementary school PE. During the 2010-11 school year, UC researchers collected quantitative and qualitative data on PE schedules and minutes, PE class quality (i.e. percent of class time in MVPA), and barriers to PE implementation. The PE Advocates publicly disseminated the findings from this study through press releases, a public forum, and published reports and papers. The partners also shared the study data within the district through meetings with the superintendents and administration, the Board of Education, the PE department, and in small group meetings/professional developments with elementary school principals. During the 2012-13 school year, UC researchers conducted a follow-up study, to determine if having shared data from the 2011 study increased support for PE from the school district, and improved PE quantity and quality. Read more about our partnership  as featured on Salud America’s webpage.

Uniting Parents for Physical Education (UPPE) was created to raise the value of PE throughout SFUSD because PE is the best way for all students to get regular physical activity. UPPE is a collaboration between Shape Up San Francisco, Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth, Healthy Hearts SF, Bayview HEAL Zone, American Heart Association, and California Center for Public Health Advocacy. UPPE was formed out of the PE Advocates (PEA) because in doing their work, the PEA realized that parent voices were essential to getting the District to prioritize PE.

To that end, UPPE aims to educate parents on the benefits of PE and to assist parents with the development of their message of why PE matters. Contact us for more information about this project, made possible with funding from Kaiser Permanente.

Why PE? 

Several reports, including the National Physical Activity Plan, The White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity, and Physical Education Research for Kids (PERK), have carefully documented the numerous benefits that daily PE confers on students. From a health perspective, regular,  quality PE is attributed to higher rates of physical activity, lower obesity rates, increased cardiovascular fitness. Physical fitness is strongly linked to better academic performance. The California Department of Education found that physically fit children scored twice as well on academic tests as those that were unfit. Read about the state of PE in San Francisco in Shape Up SF PE Advocate’s recent assessment report (February 2012).

California Department of Education mandates that elementary students receive 200 minutes of scheduled PE every 10 days. In addition, the national recommendation is for students to spend 50% of PE class time in health-enhancing moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA).[i]  Despite the importance of PE for youth, it has been shown that schools frequently do not meet the mandated minutes or achieve sufficient time in MVPA, with elementary schools being farther from these goals than middle and high schools due to lack of funding for elementary PE teachers, limited outdoor facilities for PE, and absence of block scheduling that would ensure dedicated time for PE on a weekly basis. [ii]


SFUSD’s PE Master Plan is the map that the District, families, the community, and other stakeholders use to work together to provide comprehensive, sequential physical education instruction for every student in the SFUSD.

SFUSD has approximately 72 elementary schools. Ideally, each school site would have a credentialed PE teacher, but there currently is not adequate funding to support this model. Instead, the PE Master Plan for Elementary Schools utilizes full-time credentialed PE Teachers (PE Specialists) who rotate between 2-3 school sites to provide:

  • Professional development for classroom teachers;
  • Supervised and coordinated Physical Education implementation;
  • Physical education equipment, curriculum and instructional materials; and
  • Supervised state compliance for physical education.

SFUSD’s PE programs are currently funded through the Public Education and Enrichment Fund (PEEF) also known as Prop H; which was authorized by voters in 2004 and is up for reauthorization in 2014. With permission from the New York State Department of Health, Shape Up SF adapted their Where’s My PE? Campaign to help raise value of PE for elementary schools the San Francisco Unified School District in preparation for the reauthorization of PEEF. Please download and share these images with your networks. 











Board of Education meetings are open to the public. Meetings are held every at 6 PM on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of the month at 555 Franklin Street, San Francisco, CA, 94102 – Board of Education Room. Call Board of Education Secretary, Esther Casco, to get on the speaker’s list: (415) 241-6427.

[i] Woodward-Lopez G, Diaz H, Cox L. Physical Education Research for Kids (PERK): A Study of the California Task Force on Youth and Workplace Wellness: Public Health Institute; 2010.

[ii] Failing Fitness: Physical activity and Physical Education in Schools. In: UCLA Center to Eliminate Health Disparities and Samuels & Associates. Los Angeles: Funded by The California Endowment, 2007.