Legislation has given Wisconsin school districts the choice to implement new options pertaining to the way students may earn physical education requirements. 

Wisconsin Act 105 modified many aspects of education law. Regarding physical education, a new section of Wisconsin Stat. sec. 118.33 was created and became effective Dec. 9, 2011. It reads as follows: 118.33 (1) (e) A school board may allow a pupil who participates in sports or in another organized physical activity, as determined by the school board, to complete an additional 0.5 credit in English, social studies, mathematics, science, or health education in lieu of 0.5 credit in physical education. 

This provision is optional and up to each school board to determine whether or not to adopt it. If this provision is adopted, what types of sports or other forms of physical activity, and under what conditions, will the board permit a pupil to complete 0.5 credit in options other than physical education?

Attending the January meeting of Amery’s Board of Education to share their thoughts on the matter, were members of the Physical Education department, Mike Kelly, Jesse Rose and Justin Schuh. “We are all coaches. We have a very high regard for coaches and we know they work hard, but when it comes to implementing the standards of Phy. Ed. into their athletics, I don’t think that necessarily happens-actually I know it does not happen in all of the sports,” said Schuh.

The team felt it is important to keep physical education classes required, as Phy. Ed. helps students learn knowledge and skills that apply to many lifetime activities and are often missing from participation in specific sports. Schuh explained that in the school’s physical education classes they focus on a variety of areas including living a healthy lifestyle and knowledge and skills about many lifetime sports and activities. “If you are specializing in just one, you are not getting that at all, “ he said. He felt there would be major concerns should Act 105 pass, such as hitting standards and demonstrating competency in motor skills and movement patterns. “They are not designing their plays, coaches are. They are not designing their means of being successful; their coach is doing that for them. In Phy. Ed. we really encourage kids to develop their own plans. Our goal is that they can design their own plan so they can go out and be successful later on in living a healthy lifestyle” said Schuh.

Schue said they focus on positive encouragement during physical education classes. 

Also pointed out were the facts that physical activity reduces anxiety, which is a huge issue for youth. It also increases brain activity, raises self-esteem and self-image, decreases illness and increases positive moods. Schuh said, “In my opinion we should be looking at more opportunities for kids to have physical activity during the school day, throughout the school year.”

Rose said, “Our coaches are great at what they do, but they did not all go to college and get certified in physical education.” 

Students at the high school are given wide variety opportunities for Phy. Ed. classes including a required “P.E. 9” which most freshman take, as well as weightlifting, indoor and outdoor team sports and lifetime activities.

It was discussed that a summer physical education class might become available in the future to allow students more room in their scheduling during the school year.

High School principal Josh Gould said if the summer class were offered, it would not interfere with Band or Driver’s Education.

“I see the curriculum work they are doing, the standards they are aligning, the assessments they are drawing up and assessing kids daily off a rubric, it is consistent and it is awesome.” said middle school principal, Tom Bensen. He said he participated in sports growing up and did not feel he got the same benefits out them that he did out of the classroom physical education studies. He said he understood the concept behind Act 105, but he feels it does a discredit to the work the physical education instructors do each day.

Board member Char Glenna agreed saying, “It would take the education out of physical education.”

Kelly said, “It is important to learn how to lift weights, how to set a schedule to go to yoga, things that are beneficial outside of sports.” He also felt that passing sport participation credits would put a heavier workload on coaches that are already hard to come by.

Other issues that came into play were matters surrounding what sports would be approved and what to do if grades or injuries do not allow an athlete to participate in their sport, thus not receive the credit toward graduation. 

It does not look like many schools have jumped aboard with allowing sports participation credits and in the end it was decided Amery would not either. 

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