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Should physical education be required?

Many teens aren't exactly eager to run, stretch, or do push-ups. But, say educators and health-care professionals, exercise is good for both your physical and mental health. So why are physical-education classes becoming rarer in U.S. public schools? "Right or wrong, a lot of schools are dropping PE, art, and music to make room for math, science, English, and the things that [students] are going to get tested on," says Karen Silberman, former executive director of the National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity.

Rachel Varner, 12, a seventh-grader at Olympic View Middle School in Mukilteo, Washington, says that as kids get older, gym class at her school becomes less of a priority. "A sixth-grader s expected to do PE for the whole year, Rachel told JS. But when you are a seventh- or eighth-grader, you take PE only for a semester and then do computers the other semester." In some schools, kids don't have to take PE at all.

What do you think? Should PE classes he required?

YES "PE should be required or else most kids will become couch potatoes and will be fat, says Kristen Campbell, 13, a ninth-grader at Colony High School in Ontario, California.

Teresa Fedor, an Ohio state Senator, has introduced a bill that would require PE and set standards for PE programs at Ohio schools. "It's really important to have a quality physical-education program so we have a chance for our children to be healthy," Fedor says.

Kirsten Poulin, 12, who agrees that exercise is important, has an additional reason for requiring PE. "The games kids play in gym are usually fun," she says. Kirsten, a seventh-grader at St. Peter and Sacred Heart School in Auburn, Maine, adds, "If PE were not required, [my] junior high would probably not have enough people to play any games."

NO There are only so many hours in a school day, says Michael Cappetta, 15, a sophomore at Chagrin Falls High School in Ohio. "With today's teens more focused on getting the good grade and taking as many academic classes as you can," he says, "it can be a nuisance to have to spend 50 minutes of your day [taking PE], when really you would rather be doing something else."

Given all the academic courses required of kids today, many people agree that PE should be an elective (class taken by choice). As Tommy Price, superintendent of Columbia County schools in Georgia, says, "If a child wants to take band, which is a year-round course, and Spanish, which is a year-round course, PE is out." Making gym an elective, adds Michael, would enable students to have more "control over their lifestyle."

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Title Annotation:NEWS DEBATE
Publication:Junior Scholastic
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 5, 2005
Previous Article:A devil of a problem.
Next Article:It's cool to have class: basketball star Chris Bosh and others tell JS readers about the importance of teamwork and respect.

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