Skip to comments.Pottsville High (PA) savings plans call for scrapping gym class next year
Posted on 03/12/2005 11:36:09 AM PST by Born Conservative
Some Pottsville Area High School students can forget about climbing the rope, dodging balls or getting sweaty altogether.
Gym class may be a thing of the past for students when the district eliminates the mandatory physical education requirement next school year.
The Pottsville Area School District is planning to scrap the four semesters of physical education required to graduate.
It's a move that will help save the school district money and it also stems from tougher academic standards for school districts.
Schools Superintendent James T. Gallagher said the district is trying to control costs.
And without a sizable increase in money from the state and federal governments, he said rising health care, special education, retirement and energy costs will force the district to scale back some programs.
With about 1,200 students enrolled in the high school, each student at some time was required to take a physical education class.
By changing physical education to an elective, fewer students will sign up.
"It's great. I hate gym," said Alex J. Bulino, 16, a high school junior. "I won't be signing up (next year). Definitely not. A lot of people take it, but I don't like it."
Gallagher said that if the department had a sizable decline in enrollment, then not as many instructors would be needed, but he said the teachers within the seven-member physical education department would not lose their jobs or positions.
"As we have teachers retire, they will not be replaced and it will be a financial savings to the district," Gallagher said.
Although the changes to the physical education department are the most drastic, the district will also cut the mandatory drivers education class.
Charles V. Wagner, high school principal, said the high school will no longer offer the mandated driver's education curriculum next year.
He did say a driver's education course will be offered in the summer for a fee, but it has not been set.
Cutting unpopular programs and adding new courses has been a familiar practice, but Shirley Black, health and physical education adviser with the state Department of Education, has noted a decline in physical education programs across the commonwealth.
"The districts must ensure that health, safety and physical education are provided at a sufficient level," she said. "Schools have to guarantee that the students can achieve a proficient level in these area."
At Blue Mountain High School, high school students must fulfill a two credit requirement prior to graduation, which breaks down to about four days of physical education a semester for five semesters.
"You are required to have some requirements for health and physical education," said William H. Hall, superintendent of the Blue Mountain School District.
At Pottsville, the high school will require students to take a health class.
With growing concerns about health and obesity in the nation, the chairman of Pottsville's physical education department worries about the lasting affects.
"Sound body, sound mind has been a given forever. I think there's some truism." said James K. Steidle, department chairman. "What can you do now that the decision is made? I think they should be taking physical education because of the society we're living in."
Regarding the obesity issue, Gallagher said people need to be accountable for their own decisions.
"There has to be personal responsibility. We've mandated physical education and you cannot force someone to lose weight," Gallagher said. "We teach students about proper nutrition in health. Students are required to take health."
Some students disagree with the policy change.
"I think it should be mandatory because teen obesity is a problem in the United States," 12th-grader Jess L. Paulo, 17, said.
More schools are also shifting attention to the standardized testing or the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment tests.
Students focusing on class rank and grade point average would be more likely to opt for another course that carries more academic credits.
Amber L. Welborn, 17, a senior, thinks underclassmen will have an advantage.
"Their GPA and class rank will be higher because the quality points for physical education are lower than other electives," she said. "Students will now have an advantage over what we did."
"Students could fill their schedule with an elective that will offer more quality points next year," she said.
Linda R. Dietrich, Pottsville, waited for her daughter outside of the school.
"I think it's a great idea. Gym is not an important part of the life unless you plan on becoming a gym teacher," she said. "I think it should be a choice cause it's not a major subject."
Junior Samantha A. Martz plans to sign up for physical education next year.
"I actually don't like it. I think it would be better if everyone was involved cause, not everyone is involved in sports," she said. "I plan on taking a semester and playing a sport. I don't like to be out of shape."
As students select their courses for next year, administrators and teachers will see how many students enroll.
"I'd like to think as many students as possible can fit it in, but it's a pie in the sky. I don't think it's possible," Steidle said.
Get rid of gym, and get rid of the school buses. The kids will have to walk to school and thereby stay in shape. Problem solved!
I went to a class A (biggest) high school in Michigan and a class 5A (biggest) high school in Texas. I can vouch that 8,000+ at a Michigan high school game is big time. (I don't think my high school pulled 8,000+ when we played our rival at the last game of the season. And that was counting the rival team's fans, too!) I will also state that 8,000+ at a Texas high school game is below average.
I suppose gym could be a good option, but most of the gym teachers I had in school sucked. I hated gym with a passion. Course, I hated all of my high school with a passion.
You want it, you pay for it. Not popular in today's let's borrow the money politics.
This Texas school district has an above average salary schedule. I assume that its stipends are also above average. Additional info: This district is largely minority (2/3 Mexican). I have a feeling that's why it has to pay more to attract teachers and other staff.
More like: You want it, you sign up for it.
The only difference is that PE is now an elective, not a requirement.
Here's the problem. In my old district, some students are 4 miles from elementary school, 5-6 miles from middle school(6-8 Grade) and 8-10 miles from the high school.
Now high schools can tough it out, but there's no way a 5 year old can handle a 4 mile walk, and both parents oftentimes work these days.
I've heard a lot of stories about Texas HS ball. We were on a playoff run and expected to win it all my senior year. We lost to the eventual state champs in the regional finals. That accounted for a lot of the high attendance at our games.
At the games I coached though, we got the players' families, some JV players getting ready for their game, and a few friends and girlfriends of the players. I coached the freshmen. Big difference.
I never coached for the glory anyway. Some of the ex-players as coaches helped me out when I started playing, and the coaching is my chance to do the same. I'll probably get back into coaching at some point once I have time.
We were part of that crazy tradition too - our daughter had her little cheerleader outfit she wore every Friday - no, she wasn't in High School, she was two years old....;^)
Good for you - I'm so glad it worked out for you - my husband's uncle was a prof at TAMU - my daughter is at Texas Tech
I was personally aware of a Coach who made almost double what the average teacher was making - of course he had won a State Championship and had several years of at least making the playoffs -
Well, when I was five, I walked seven miles each way to school, uphill both ways, in the snow, no shoes...
Sorry, let me get serious. Yes, you're right. Younger kids can't handle walks that distance, so getting rid of buses is not a serious option in many cases. (Now, if they would go back to the one-room neighborhood schoolhouses...)
"Homeschool them and let them go to college when they're 14. "
***I agree with homeschooling, but not everyone has the wherewithal to do it. What is your provision for those who can't afford it, other than the standard browbeating of parents that they don't care enough for their children? Here's an example thread:
On the 'sin' of sending kids to public school
Interestingly, your prior response in #30 contains the seeds of the conundrum that kids face today, namely that the moment they can pass the equivalency test they are wasting their time in high school.
Thread 30: "More schools are also shifting attention to the standardized testing or the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment tests."
Ladylib: I think this is the real reason. Gotta study for those high-stakes tests, and the more academic courses you take, the better you'll do.
With your permission, I'd like to copy your response over on my other thread.
"***I agree with homeschooling, but not everyone has the wherewithal to do it. What is your provision for those who can't afford it, other than the standard browbeating of parents that they don't care enough for their children?
Browbeating????!!!! How dare You! LOL!
I would never, ever browbeat or even question a parent who chooses not to homeschool their children. I would never question an educational choice -- even a relative's. Homeschooling certainly isn't for everyone. It's not for parents who are not particularly fond of their children (although they may love them, you really have to like your kids to put up with them all day), and it's not for parents who know in their hearts they would just botch it up. In fact, it's not feasible for a lot of parents for a lot of reasons. That said, I, myself, am not happy with today's public schools for any number of reasons, and I sometimes do wonder why parents are willing to send their kids to public school.
However, many parents are very happy with their children's school (some of my relatives and friends, for instance) and many students are very happy to attend them. I also have relatives and friends who think homeschooling is for people who live in the backwoods, worship with snakes, marry their cousins, and sit around the kitchen table all day. They still might not want their children to go to the local public school, however, so they're willing to pay $12,000 a year in private school tuition. Choice is great!
I think it's fantastic that kids can start college at 14 if they are bright enough and they choose to do so. Why should they be held back? Many kids today just want to move on. They don't want another four years. Why can't they go to work, apprentice, take on-line courses at their convenience, start their own businesses, or go to the vocational school of their choice? Is it because we don't want kids from 14 - 18 on the streets or taking jobs from older workers? I think that's probably it. It's all about control.
Schools are cutting recess, electives, gym, art, music -- because they think that it takes too much time from test preparation. School officials are running scared. No Child Left Behind is throwing them for a loop. Their jobs are on the line -- finally. If enough kids don't pass their high-stakes tests, that could be the end of their careers. They need those kids to pull the fat from the fire. A lot of students don't do well -- and the reason they don't do well is because they are victims of poor curriculum and teaching practices, in my opionion. The chickens have come home to roost. It's make or break time for public schools -- I give them another two or three years to figure it out because every day, there are more and more options.
You can use my response.
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