What others say: New PE rules should be given a workout

  • Sunday, December 21, 2014 3:06pm
  • Opinion

Physical education guidelines for students in the Juneau School District may soon be changing, and we see this change as a harbringer of benefits for students at the high school level.

At a regular school board meeting Tuesday, the Program Evaluation Committee recommended substituting extracurricular sports activities for traditional physical education courses for high school students. In other words, a student could count his or her participation in after-school dance class (to use just one example) as a replacement for a PE class required to graduate.

As long as these young adults are getting at least one hour every day of quality physical activity (as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), we see this as an opportunity for struggling students to take an extra course, to allow student-athletes, like ski racers who travel often, to squeeze in an additional few credits. Not only do parents support the change; it would follow a statewide trend. According to an Empire report last week, Juneau is the only major Alaska school district that does not offer any waiver options for the physical education requirement.

In the second draft proposal, however, we would like to better understand how hours will be tracked. For instance, the independent study program option for Juneau would require 67.5 hours of sports activity outside of school hours to earn the one PE credit required for graduation. What expectations does that bring for coaches? We are curious how workloads would increase for school staff and what sports will and will not be included.

Some may argue that physical education, especially in a nation ridden with obesity, shouldn’t be made to seem less important. To those we reply that many high school athletes obtain a very high level of fitness from sports participation. We would also point out that our elementary and middle school PE teachers are the ones who help cultivate an appreciation for being active, a curriculum that teaches and encourages a lifelong, active lifestyle. Active lifestyles of varying types should be encouraged in high schools as well.

Change isn’t always welcomed by all, but in this case, we feel the benefits will outweigh any hurdles.

— Juneau Empire,

Dec. 21

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