Should sports equal phy ed class?

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Saturday, August 21, 2010
— The Janesville School Board is considering whether to support a plan to give academic credit to students who participate on high school sports teams.

State law now requires students to take 1.5 credits of physical education. Sports are not counted for phy ed credit.

Janesville School Board President Bill Sodemann wants to change that.

Sodemann proposes that the school board back a resolution to be voted on by delegates at next January’s Wisconsin School Board Association convention.

If the delegates pass the resolution, the association would lobby for a change in the law.

The first step is approval by the local school board, which will take up the question when it meets Tuesday.

Sodemann said the school board made the same proposal several years ago at the convention. It was voted down.

“It’s been a few years, and I thought I’d try it again,” Sodemann said.

The Wisconsin Education Association Council—the state’s largest teachers union—opposes the idea. The American Heart Association also has opposed it, according to a district document.

“I guarantee you, you get a lot more activity and exercise in a sport than you do a in a phy ed class, typically,” Sodemann said. “And if it encouraged more kids to participate in some kind of a sport, that would be great.”

Some have argued that physical education classes teaches physical skills that students can use to stay fit for a lifetime, while few high school football players, for example, continue playing after high school.

Sodemann said that is why his proposal would allow a half credit for each sport, with a maximum of two sports, for a maximum of one credit.

The remaining half credit would have to be earned in a phy ed class, where students could learn those lifelong skills, Sodemann said.

Sodemann said the change would give students opportunities to take other courses for enrichment or, in the case of Advanced Placement classes, for college credit.

Sodemann’s proposal acknowledges that the number of phy ed teachers might be reduced, but he said it could mean a need for more coaches and for more teachers because students could be taking more courses in other subjects.

According to Sodemann’s written proposal, school districts would not be required to make the change, but it would allow them to do so.

Sodemann’s proposal would include only sports sanctioned by the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletics Association, so cheerleaders and pompon squads would not qualify, nor would club sports such as lacrosse.

The school board must take action soon. Resolutions for the January convention are due by Sept. 15.

On the agenda

The Janesville School Board meets at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Educational Services Center 527 S. Franklin St. For those who cannot attend, the meeting will be shown live on Janesville cable channels 96 and 993. The agenda includes:

- An update and possible discussion of the 2010-11 budget process.

- Discussion of and possible approval of the results of Superintendent Karen Schulte’s annual performance scorecard.

- Presentations on the Rock River Charter School, Janesville Virtual Academy and the High School Equivalency Diploma program.

- A welcome to Kristen Moisson, Jackson Elementary School’s new principal.

The board’s personnel committee meets at 5:15 p.m. to discuss pay raises for administrators and other staff not represented by unions and to discuss the possibility of hiring a grant writer. These items are not on the main meeting agenda,.

Last updated: 2:40 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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