Board of education proposed changes to PE course requirements

Caeden Babcock

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Junior Jack Melton swings at a birdie during PE class. PE provides a break from standard classes for students. However, the Board of Education is possibly removing half of the PE credit.

The start of this school year has brought about an amendment to the current graduation credit requirements. The MCPS Board of Education (BOE) meets on Nov. 9 to discuss the possible removal of a half-credit after recently doubling the health credit requirement for next year. This upcoming controversial meeting has perturbed many.

Health classes have recently been changed to require two credits for graduation rather than one, meaning students now have to complete 22.5 credits total for graduation rather than 22. The BOE is debating whether to keep the new 22.5 credit requirement or remove a half-credit requirement and how to do so.

Currently, the MCPS Board of Education is debating three possible ideas:

Option A: Keep 0.5 additional MCPS high school physical education graduation requirement. Students in MCPS would need 22.5 credits to graduate (MSDE requires 22 credits)

Option B: Reduce MCPS physical education graduation credit requirement by 0.5, maintaining 22 credits total

Option C: Reduce the MCPS electives requirement by 0.5, maintaining 22 credits total

Option B, to remove half of the physical education graduation requirement, has sparked unease among the Physical Education department.

“I am feeling concerned about the possibility of the PE credit being dropped from 1.0 credit to .5 Credit…cutting this [PE] to a minimal .5 reduces their opportunities to express themselves in a dance class, explore the dynamics of volleyball class, experience the thrills of football or feel the energy of a weight room, to just name a few of our classes,” Physical Education Resource Teacher Janice Cornell said.

PE teachers were made aware of the decision on Oct. 20, sparking frustration for many PE teachers due to the short notice. However, the PE department has still been able to do a lot to fight the possible credit removal.

“Every MCPS high school resource teacher in health and physical education has written letters of concern to the BOE regarding the three options being presented on November 9th. We have been in close contact with our Health and Physical Education Union Representative Jessica Patterson. We have asked our Principals for support. We have written to parents to ask for support,” Cornell said.

Aside from voicing their concerns, the PE department has also been gathering their own evidence to present to the board.

“We are collecting our own data and research on the importance of daily physical activity in every child’s life. We have collected student voice data from over 9,000 students who took the survey and overwhelmingly support Physical Education programs in the high schools,” Cornell said.

For many students, PE is a great stress reliever during the school day.

“It’s always nice to have that break during the day and especially as a freshman it eases the workload,” freshman Timmy Gaul said.

The Board meeting on Nov. 9 will be a closed meeting, meaning details will not be released to the public. Many researchers for the county have been collecting data on if PE is important for students, and the verdict will be presented to the board during the meeting. Whether or not the board will make a decision at the meeting is unknown, but regardless, PE teachers from around the county will be there protesting.

“It’s [PE] the first opportunity for people coming from middle school to try out weight training or yoga, and being forced to do something might make you start to like it and continue,” freshman Tess Senehi said.