Questions and Answers About the American Sports Institute and The Arete School

What is the American Sports Institute?

The American Sports Institute (ASI), based in the San Francisco Bay Area, is a nonprofit, nongovernmental (NGO) organization that uses the principles and practices that work in sport culture, physical education, and wellness to address personal, social, and international concerns. ASI’s current focus is to use these principles and practices to help transform America’s public-school system.

What’s going on in our public schools?

America’s public-school system is in trouble. Student academic scores and health and fitness levels are extremely low (with student overweight and obesity at epidemically high levels), and apathy toward academic courses is high. Hard data are available to validate these concerns, including the latest research showing that student engagement is extremely low in academic classrooms. One thing is inescapable: There is something fundamentally wrong at the core of our nation’s educational system.

What qualifies the American Sports Institute to be involved with education?

Since 1989, the American Sports Institute has been involved with educational change. ASI conceptualized, developed, and pilot-tested the curriculum; conducted teacher training workshops; and implemented a train-the-trainers program for the Promoting Achievement in School through Sport (PASS) program. PASS is a daily, yearlong, academic course in which middle and high school students learn how to improve their grades, behavior, self-esteem, and physical performance. This is done by having the students set individualized academic and physical goals, and then work toward achieving these goals by applying the principles and practices that work in sport culture, physical education, and wellness to their academic and physical pursuits. To date, approximately 4,000 students in California, Illinois, North Carolina, and South Carolina have gone through the PASS program.

The PASS program has been evaluated by researchers from the Mid-continent Regional Educational Laboratory (McREL), one of 10 research centers administered by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Research and Improvement. In their report, the McREL researchers state, “PASS addresses the needs of the whole learner— intellectual needs, motivational needs, and other needs such as students’ physical and social needs . . . . making it a model for total school reform.”

In addition to being implemented in a one-period-a-day context, the principles and practices of the PASS program were applied across the entire curriculum throughout the full school day at a small, K-8 public school just north of Yosemite National Park. This included the implementation of an aerobics-based program for all students at the beginning of every school day.

As a result, and combined with other changes, the school increased its state test scores by 200 points over six years and was selected as a California Distinguished School. In the words of the principal, “One of the key findings from the (California Department of Education) evaluation committee was our commitment to aerobics every morning (his underline) and the PASS program woven throughout our daily school lives.”

Having created this model for total school reform in the context of a single academic course, and having successfully pilot-tested the full-school model, ASI is now in the developmental phase of applying this model to a larger school setting—The Arete School of Sport Culture and Wellness.

What is The Arete School of Sport Culture and Wellness?

The Arete School of Sport Culture and Wellness that ASI is creating is a K-12 school that will apply the principles and practices that work in sport culture, physical education, and wellness to the entire curriculum and school setting in order to generate high academic scores, high health and fitness scores, and high motivation scores for all its students, including those from disadvantaged families.

How will The Arete School work?

The Arete School’s curriculum will focus on three major themes—sport culture, physical education, and wellness, including personal, social, and environmental wellness. These three thematic areas will be studied in a balanced and integrated manner through the arts, humanities, and sciences. In other words, sport culture, physical education, and the three dimensions of wellness will be studied through a balanced and integrated approach by using the disciplines of math, language arts, the physical sciences, the social sciences, the arts, and international language. In addition, all students will be taught in both English and Spanish.

How will The Arete School be structured?

The Arete School will be a tuition-free, privately funded, community-based school that will act like a public school. In order to be free of the federal, state, district, and union regulations that have created the current problems in our public schools and to avoid compromising its chances of being successful, The Arete School will not receive government funding. At the same time, The Arete School will be tuition-free for all students so it can operate like a public school and still be perceived as being different from a standard private school.

The Arete School will be comprised of an ethnically diverse group of pre- K-12 students and families, and an ethnically diverse staff. The School will be open from early morning until late in the evening, and will operate on a year-round basis. Parental and community involvement will be integral to the School.

The Arete School will start with 50 kindergarten students the first year and add 50 additional kindergarten students each year thereafter until it is a fully functioning pre-K-12 school. Beginning with the first year, approximately 50% of all students will be from low-income, minority families, most of which will be Latino.

How will The Arete School be funded?

The Arete School will be funded annually through private sources, most of which will come from individuals. This means the American Sports Institute must raise the tuition for every child every year.

Where will The Arete School be located and when will it begin operating?

The Arete School will be located in Northern California. The School will open in August 2025.

What about accountability at The Arete School?

Accountability will be a major focus of The Arete School. With the latest preliminary research already validating The Arete School’s principles and practices, the School will be engaged continuously in research studies. The School will constantly monitor itself to validate that which is working and change that which is not, and outside researchers from respected institutions will conduct independent studies on the School’s effectiveness.

How will The Arete School impact the public-school system?

In order to create awareness about what it does and influence the public-school system, The Arete School will use the internal and external research studies as resources to conduct workshops, seminars, presentations, conferences, symposia, etc., for current and prospective educators as well as those from other institutions and the general public. As has been done in the past, this will include presentations to members of the California Legislature as well as state and local education officials.

Eventually, The Arete School will serve as a model for transforming America’s public-school system and be a certified, public-school, teacher-training and resource center for educators across the country and around the world.