You just have to monitor the news occasionally to know that physical education (PE) in schools has been cut, minimized, or is severely curtailed due to financial and scholastic pressures. You just have to look at schools to see the evidence of ongoing weight issues thanks to a lack of adequate exercise activities and dietary challenges. So it seems almost impossible to believe that a school that has PE and fitness requirements for graduation would allow students to do media activities that include running movies and selling treats as a way of meeting PE credits. Well apparently it's going on in a lower Manhattan school - that's right - in the city that outlawed trans fats and has now made salt the next public enemy.
In fact about 20 students, some of whom a NY newspaper indicates were a bit overweight, are very much working reels instead of treadmills. They were given permission to earn 7 hours towards physical education credits (for graduation) by manning projection reels in the media room and showing films to students for required courses. So as the article I reviewed shares, these kids get to do work with minimal physical exertion in order to earn credits towards fitness which should require maximal exertion. The kids themselves concede it's a "shortcut to graduation." How about a shortcut to a shorter lifespan? One theory offered by a student was that the school really wanted kids focused on academics and not engaged in some activity (like physical activity) that might take their minds off schoolwork.
What about all those studies that clearly show that a student who exercises actually potentiates their academics and fuels better studying habits? What about the studies that show that a healthy body often focuses better on schoolwork? What about the fact that obesity statistics are soaring among kids and teens? According to the news article, the principal had "no comment." I for one, am not surprised. What defense would a principal have? PE is an "endangered species" as far as classes go so what reason could a principal give to replace fitness with.......showing movies and selling popcorn and soda (I doubt healthy treats were being offered with the movie experience).
The school is now being investigated and time will tell whether or not the school board is outraged enough to squash the credit program and reinforce the fitness credit system as it was supposed to be administered. I certainly hope that's the outcome.
Published On: July 19, 2010