I am always interested when schools cut programs to place resources into ‘core’ curriculum. The research I have read pretty uniformly suggests that time spent on arts, music and PE improves core learning results versus just spending more hours on the core subjects themselves.
With regard to PE specifically, there is a fantastic book from a couple of years ago (Ratey, 2008). It makes an extremely strong and results based claim that aerobic exercise improves learning. Such exercise is obviously generally good for student health. But fascinatingly, it appears to balance brain chemistry as well, promoting psychological and emotional health. That’s something we could all use a little more of I’m sure. 🙂
Anyway, it has certainly made me a strong advocate of aerobic PE in my daughter’s school. Her PE teacher read it too and now he’s implementing some of the modifications to standard PE class to make it more aerobic and individually targeted.