When the Board of Education crafts our curriculum, their goal is to prepare students for life after high school. While most of what we learn is useful on some level, the BOE needs improvement in one area: they require that everyone, even student athletes, take at least one credit of physical education.
The main point of a P.E. credit is so students can exercise, so for student athletes, this requirement isn’t only excessive, but also unnecessary—they already spend countless hours exercising outside of school with their respective sports teams. Student Member of the Board elect Nate Tinbite proposed removing the P.E. credit requirement for athletes who play on a school sports team. MCPS should adopt this policy and qualify two or more seasons of school sports as a P.E. credit, so students have adequate time in school to pursue their interests and take other classes.
Eliminating the P.E. requirement for student athletes allows student athletes to explore other topics of interest. The average Whitman athlete spends around two hours at practice for five to six days a week. With more time to delve into new subjects and classes, student athletes can become more well-rounded individuals instead of spending most of their time exercising.
If student athletes are exempt from the credit, each gym class will have fewer students. Teachers will be able to give students increased attention and instruction—especially to those who aren’t as athletic. In addition, students won’t need to substitute out as frequently, making students active for longer periods of time and each class more productive.
Opponents argue that if student athletes don’t take P.E., they won’t learn sportsmanship, the ability to follow rules and guidelines, and general skills required to play different sports—all of which are core P.E. concepts. However, through participating in school sports, student athletes already work closely with their peers and coaches every day to learn these same skills, just in a different setting. Forcing student athletes to take P.E. is redundant. We shouldn’t waste school time teaching athletes what they already know.
Making student athletes exercise is redundant—they do it every day. If students need to learn to be efficient and productive adults, then their curriculum should reflect that in high school; removing unnecessary requirements is a step forward.