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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, November 17, 2002

Board to discuss standards for P.E.

By Jennifer Hiller
Advertiser Education Writer

A flap over the physical education requirement in public high schools will be aired at a Board of Education committee Friday.

Board members are expected to discuss — but not vote on — P.E. and health standards. Talk about reducing the P.E. requirement to make room for other subjects has sparked an outcry from coaches and health officials. This comes at a time when studies show the obesity rate among children and teenagers in Hawai'i is higher than the national average.

Bruce Anderson, director of the state Department of Health, in a letter Friday to Board of Education Chairman Herbert Watanabe, said he is opposed to reducing the P.E. requirement in high schools from one year to one semester.

But Greg Knudsen, DOE spokesman, said board members do not want to eliminate P.E. or reduce it from the high school schedule.

"That's already understood to not be the most popular option," he said.

Instead, Knudsen said the board will likely spend time looking at academic requirements and scheduling in the high schools.

Hawai'i high school students take six classes each day, which educators say can make it difficult to fit in electives such as art, band or foreign languages.

Board members will consider options such as staggered teaching schedules to allow students, but not teachers, to have a longer school day and fit in more classes.

"There's too much in the world to learn to fit into the time that's allowed," Knudsen said. "If we want schools to offer a range of instruction, physical education to science, we need to make sure we can accommodate that."

Anderson said he is concerned that a policy change is being considered. "To focus on their scholastic needs without supporting a child's physical and mental-health needs would, indeed, be shortsighted," he wrote.

Knudsen said that any changes in high school requirements would go through months of discussion and public hearings before going to the full board for approval.

The Committee for Regular Education will meet at 3:30 p.m. Friday in Room 404 of the Department of Education's Queen Lili'uo-kalani Building.

Reach Jennifer Hiller at jhiller@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8084.