Privatization of physical education pushed by CPS as group that will offer Zumba and yoga (to 'expel toxins' and provide the longest possible life) gets marketing materials out to CPS principals via the CPS email system for free

Since the Power Point outlining the restoration of physical education for all Chicago Public Schools students, the question has been: How are the teachers to be hired given the lies that CPS is telling about the latest budget realities? The answer, to no one's surprise, is that CPS is going to try and get principals and schools to exercise their right of "choice" -- to pick private vendors to provide non-union activities that will be promoted as "physical education," "wellness," or some flavor of the month marketing scheme.

The 'Chief Officer' for CPS health and physical education for the first time in the history of the city's public schools is not a veteran physical education teacher and coach. Instead, her experience is corporate and largely private sector, as was demonstrated when she presented the Power Point about the new health and physical education policy to the January 2014 meeting of the Chicago Board of Education. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Not only is the Board of Education's chief of physical education not a physical education teacher, but the entire of the direction of the department is towards various New Age and trendy schemes that avoid school physical education, fitness and sports as they are actually practiced in more than 98 percent of American schools -- and by virtually every school and school district in Illinois.

Substance has confirmed that elementary principals have received what amounts to an e-mail solicitation to their CPS email accounts from a private vendor which claims that hiring it will enable schools to do a version of PE.

"Principals were solicited by this vendor directly to our cps email accounts," a CPS principal who asked to remain anonymous confirmed to Substance. On Thursday, June 5, 2014, principals received and email from a group called "TerraFirm". The subject line stated: "CPS Vendor Can Help Your School Meet New PE Requirements for ST 14-15."

The push to privatize the physical education curriculum was clear on the day the Board of Education was presented with an extensive Power Point outlining the program, which was voted on and approved at the January 2014 Board meeting. The actual policy approved by the Board was put together by stringing a bunch of clichs and nostrums, accompanied by a lengthy list of supposed partners, endorsers, and "stakeholders." The endorsers and stakeholders supposedly really like the program. A Power Point timeline presented how the program would be rolled out during the 2014 - 2015 and 2015 - 2016 school year. Howe the principals and schools were to pay for it was left out, except when the presentation was challenged, briefly, by one Board of Eduction member.

The Board Report outlining the new physical education policy was approved by the Board of Education unanimously at its January 2014 meeting.The new policy itself concealed from the public a revolutionary change in direction for the physical education, sports and health education programs of America's third largest school system. For the first time in CPS history, the person in charge of all this is no longer a veteran teacher and coach -- but a "Chief Health Officer" who never had classroom teaching or on-field coaching experience with children and young adults in any Chicago public school! The policy, which the Board members voted unanimously to approve, apparently also enshrines the privatization of physical education instruction in the schools and the re-direction of the governance of the entire operation away from veteran teachers and coaches.

The actual Board Report which the Board members voted to approve was extensive. Only one Board member, former principal Mahalia Hines, questioned whether the principals and schools would have the resources to hire the physical education and health teachers to do everything in the policy.

The privatization push, behind a smokescreen of "wellness" marketing cliches, was almost inevitable. The May email that CPS provided to principals outlined more of them on behalf of the new corporate wellness vendor, a group calling itself "Terra Firm" which is so new that its Website doesn't even bother to explain who these entrepreneurs are:

"SUPPLEMENT your existing physical education program, and help you meet the new SY 14-15 requirements. Programs can be offered during regular school hours and can be provided in an individual classroom, auditorium, gymnasium, or other location. Terra Firm brings fitness programs directly to your school. Professional, high-quality programs are delivered by a respected team of certified, licensed,and professional instructors. Bi-Lingual Instructors are available.

One of the slides in the Power Point presentation on the expansion of "physical education" at the January 2014 meeting of the Chicago Board of Education gave away the privatization game in all its absurdity (above). Not one of the members of the Board of Education demanded to know what it means to "leverage other courses toward physical education" -- or how such a notion could be done legally in a state where virtually all other school districts hold physical education and health classes using certified physical education teachers. The privatization plan was exposed at the Board meeting long before principals began receiving emails from start up outfits with Post Office Box addresses offering "Zumba" and "Hip Hop" as a substitute for professional PE in the nation's third largest school system. Substance graphic taken as a screen shot during the January presentation on PE."Terra Firm provides high quality accessible programs that can be implemented as a part of: employee wellness, before, during, and after school programs, health/fitness days,

school programs, PAC activities, community outreach, special events, and more!. Terra Firm provides programs for Grades K-8(elementary schools), High Schools, and

"Adults. ZUMBA Fitness: The top global dance fitness program which fuses Latin and International dance and music. Dance yourself into shape with ZUMBA classes. The red-hot international music and easy-to-learn dance steps of a ZUMBA workout will leave you energized, and before you know it you'll have danced yourself into shape. ZUMBA is an exhilarating and effective fitness program for all ages.

"Boot Camp : A circuit based body weight and strength training class, that incorporates core, high-intensity cardio, and strength based exercises. The class is designed to strengthen and tone all major muscle groups, while also creating an after burn effect that will increase

overall calorie burn and promote fat loss.

"Yoga: The Ultimate Anti-aging and Stress-Buster Exercise. Stretch, tone and strengthen every part of your body in a slow, gentle way. Improve your posture, relieve back and neck pain as you

look and feel younger. Learn how deep breathing eases stress and expels toxins. Perfect for men/women, all ages and fitness levels

"Pilates: Move to the power of a pilates class. With deep, mindful breaths and smooth, lengthening movements, a Pilates workout improves the way you look, feel and function. Perfect for men/women, ages 15 and up and all fitness levels. Targets: Abs, back, posture, balance and flexibility.

"West African Dance: Let the beat of the drums move your body and soul! This

class incorporates basic stretches and strengthening within an improvisational warm up set to West African and Afro-Modern rhythms. Students will learn songs, rhythm, dances and culture as we embark on a journey of movement from the African diaspore. This class offers a rich taste of African culture and provides an amazing, full body workout that you don't want to miss. Get ready to sweat and have fun! All levels welcome!

"Hip-Hop Dance:Learn to express yourself through music and dance, using the dynamic dance style of hip hop. Hip Hop dance is a form of dance that focuses on the hip hop culture, music, attitude, style and funk. Learn the latest hip hop moves taught in a gentle, yet challenging format. Focus will be placed on hip hop technique, style, and building choreography blocks. A high energy dance sequence will be created that is fun, funky, and great exercise too. No previous dance experience necessary; each movement will be taught step-by-step.

To learn more about programs, please contact 773.331.6641, or email:

Terra Firm, P.O. Box 437116, Chicago, Illinois, 60643. Phone: 773.331.6641.


June 10, 2014 at 8:23 AM

By: Jean Schwab

Doesn't set well

This doesn't set well with me. I was told at an LSC meeting, that children get only 20 minutes recess and the rest of the time are in specials. Later in the day they may be able to move around in their classrooms. To me the whole idea of gym is to learn sports, play and build an idea of being part of a team. This is supposed to be a new program at my grandsons school. I did mention at the meeting,that 20minutes of recess seemed lacking.

June 10, 2014 at 8:40 AM

By: George N. Schmidt

Just wiggle in your seat for PE...?!

At the January 2014 Board of Education meeting, two outsiders who now hold major executive positions in the nation's third largest school system presented the official plans for "fine arts" and "physical education." The PE Power Point (which is available to those with a sense of humor on the Chicago Public Schools website, was basically substituting a phony rebranded wellness and nutrition kind of thingy for what should be, as always, "health, safety and physical education" taught by veteran and certified teachers and not by Zumba instructors whose office in June 2014 is a Post Office Box. The absurdity was headed off as long as Calvin Davis was still in charge of the department,but once he realized it was time to take his pension (and his clout was no longer staring CPS in the face), the current absurdity was on the agenda. And the Board of Education members voted without blushing to approve both Board Reports at their January 2014 meeting.

June 10, 2014 at 12:51 PM

By: Jean Schwab


What about sportsmanship? recess?Following rules of the game? Any of that?

June 10, 2014 at 2:51 PM

By: bob busch


they were called eligibility reports.

Before every athletic contest one was required.

I xeroxed hundreds of them.Every coach had to fill them out ,or have a student with good penmanship do the job.That was when every high school had an athletic director who made sure they were filed.

If in fact that entire procedure has collapsed lay the blame on the Board for not

enforcing what is in effect is state law.

June 15, 2014 at 12:33 AM

By: Sammy Hill

The Compromise of True Physical Education and Sports

Phys Ed and Sports enhances the educational experience by increasing scholarship opportunities, raising graduation rates and positively impacting discipline. Zumba and the other proposed alternatives are not true physical education options for high school credit. If certified teachers are not teaching it, there is no credit awarded. Stephanie White is not a Phys. Ed. person so she has no clue about this. Why do we keep putting folks in charge of areas they have no experience and certification in? I noticed interscholastic sports is really slipping as well with major eligibility issues causing Jesse Jackson to criticize the incompetence in the Sports Department. Another case of someone in charge (Tom Trotter) with no previous experience. I agree with George, You didn't hear about these issues when Calvin Davis was at the helm. Somebody should call him to clean it up.

September 26, 2020 at 2:14 PM

By: Sophia_Davis

Test, just a test

The President has made more than $13 billion available to support continued education for K-12 students enrolled in public, charter, and private schools affected by the coronavirus. Through the Treasury Department’s $150 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund, State and local governments can access funding to help school districts affected by the coronavirus.

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