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Editorial: Schools should give PE credit to active athletes

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Exercise is a good thing – not only for aging baby boomers who want to trim their waistlines, but especially for students who should be active and setting healthy lifetime habits.

But requiring one high school physical education credit to graduate likely involves too much effort for some and not enough for others. And the requirement can be quite an expense for students who wind up having to take PE during summer school – at a cost of $400 – because of scheduling conflicts or simply wanting to get it out of the way.

For student athletes, who presumably are getting organized exercise through their sports and are fit enough to play competitively, perhaps that period would be better spent in academics.

For students who are out of shape, one school year spent learning sporting activities while often not breaking a sweat isn’t enough. Perhaps a focus on establishing exercise habits would be of more benefit than teaching a variety of sporting activities. It would be better if such a pattern were developed during the nine school years before high school.

Both the New Mexico Public Education Department and the National Association for Sport and Physical Education take the position that students should be exposed to a variety of activities, which playing a sport alone doesn’t ensure. PED spokesman Larry Behrens says the state’s PE standards require students to be proficient in at least three activities.

“This requirement means that all students, including athletes, will leave school with a broad background in various different activities,” Behrens said.

But fitness should be the real goal of PE, and many high school students in New Mexico and across the United States are far from fit. If ever there was a failed exercise, PE is it.

Thirty-three states already grant PE waivers for student athletes, who are more likely to be among the fit students. New Mexico should join them.

And somebody should go to work on actually having public school students get a few minutes of exercise each day.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

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