I am a physical educator and I would like to respond to Barry Paschal's March 5 column about the state's proposed mandated increase in physical education.
I agree with Barry. While I believe that what I teach is important, it is not more important than the other enrichment areas currently taught in our public schools. Any time we increase one curricular area to the detriment of another the children suffer.
If this bill is passed, the only way to implement this increase would be to load every physical education teacher with the maximum amount of students allowed, which is currently 40 or even 60 with a paraprofessional. This would mean that there could be between 80 and 120 students in an elementary gym at one time. I don't know if you've seen an elementary gym lately, but that is a lot of bodies moving around in that space. Also, most schools have a limited supply of equipment, so that would mean the children would be waiting more and active less.
When the minimum PE requirement was lowered a few years ago I balked at first. But when my class size diminished greatly I began to see that I was able to work individually with every child. I was able to see their strengths and weaknesses and help them develop good basic skills. Increasing the number of minutes is not the answer; increasing the quality of the instruction for each child is.
The problem of obesity in children will not be eliminated by increasing the hours of physical education. All of us need to teach and model healthy eating habits and an active lifestyle.
North Columbia Elementary
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