Changes to health, physical education scare her

My purpose in writing is to express my concern regarding the recent news story on KSTP. As the current president of the Minnesota Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, as a professor who prepares teacher candidates in health and physical education, and as a concerned citizen, your proposed changes to the health and physical education requirements and curriculum for the Elk River School District scare me!

I would like to counter several of the comments presented in the news story. First, please note that physical education is much more than an “outlet” and “stress reliever” for students. In the words physical education, you see the word “education,” not recess, not activity, not free days – education. Students in K-12 physical education classes are educated by teachers who have been trained to facilitate student learning such that the K-12 students master the National Standards in Physical Education (read through all of them here If your proposal to reduce the high school physical education credits or move physical education to an elective course, how will students master these physical literacy competencies put forth by our national leaders in physical education?

Second, I am curious to know how teachers in the science and family and consumer science programs are trained to specifically address the Minnesota health education standards? As the superintendent and board members, I am quite sure you are aware that health educators spend a lot more time on health education topics and issues than just the standards. How would science or family and consumer science teachers (not trained as health educators) be able to do this for students?

I wonder how will these programs fit the health education standards into their curriculum. I would assume their days are full just trying to fit in all their own standards and curriculum.

Finally, it was indicated in the news story that students in the elementary school need additional world language and technology courses, at the expense of physical education. I mean no offense to the language/technology fields; however, I do not know the last time a person died from not being able to speak a language or use technology. With our nation’s obesity epidemic, and the fact that this generation’s children will live five less years than the previous generation, reducing the time children spend in physical education and health education just does not make sense to me.

I strongly urge you to reconsider your proposals to change the health and physical education requirements/programs for the students in the Elk River School District; their future of their health and well-being are at stake here! — Sue Tarr, Ph.D., St. Cloud. (Editor’s note: Tarr is a professor and a Developmental Adapted Physical Education program coordinator. She is also the president of the Minnesota Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance)