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Editorial: APS should get off the bench, OK PE options

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education is still on the bench when it comes to giving high school students options for fulfilling their gym graduation requirement – apparently operating under the belief that if students are forced to take gym they will:

1. Learn about active and healthy lifestyles, and

2. Meet a coach who could introduce them to a sport they had never heard of and might ultimately enjoy.

The board should quit while it’s behind in the count. Because the third strike in this at-bat is preventing students who have just 180 days a year from taking additional academic coursework because they need to meet the PE requirement – even though they are already plenty active with athletics or classes such as marching band and JROTC.

The Public Education Department made a similarly bad call when it disallowed the substitutions last year, but that was reversed in successful legislation pushed by Rio Rancho Rep. Jason Harper and Sen. Craig Brandt, and signed by Gov. Susana Martinez. Unfortunately, it did not create a uniform system across the state and instead gave 89 districts the option of approving choice and continued an inconsistent patchwork of PE standards across the state.

New Mexico requires two semesters of gym for graduation. APS Board member Don Duran supports giving “students another way to meet a grad requirement.”

Marching band, JROTC and athletics require physically rigorous conditioning, and a semester of one should count as a semester of PE. Requiring the drum line, reserve officer or starting lineup give up valuable academic class time to take ultimate Frisbee or polka is a swing and a miss for involved students.

The APS Board should get off the bench and offer its students the choice provided for in state law regarding their PE requirements.

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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