It makes absolutely no sense to require a New Mexico high school senior to drop an academically challenging course like Advanced Placement calculus or a physically rigorous course like JROTC to take P.E.
And yet, under current state rules that is the choice left to some high school students in order to meet all graduation requirements.
Nothing against learning to polka – one of the standards listed in the P.E. content analysis for grades 9-12 on the Albuquerque Public Schools website – but isn’t 7.5 hours of marching band practice a week, or the daily care of livestock for FFA, at least as valuable for physical exercise as learning to gallop to “Roll Out the Barrel?”
Sen. Craig Brandt and Rep. Jason Harper, both R-Rio Rancho, are sponsoring legislation to deal with this conundrum by allowing districts to decide whether JROTC, marching band, athletics or cheerleading can serve as a substitute for a P.E. credit. What would be even better is if the Public Education Department took the alternatives offered in the legislation and worked them into the state standards. This would prevent an inconsistent patchwork of P.E. standards across the state.
The state’s 89 school districts had been able to approve substitute courses for the P.E. requirement until last fall, when PED stopped the trombone player in this game of graduation credit musical chairs. That left some seniors with the specter of abandoning their academic and/or physical fitness priorities to meet what, for them would be an artificial graduation requirement. Waivers offered a temporary fix.
It’s time for PED to update its list of acceptable P.E. substitutions. That way all of the state’s districts can easily get in step with common-sense P.E. course rules.
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.