Personally, I hated gym class with a fiery passion. The smelly shorts, the weird gym-floor grit that collected on your hands as you crabwalked or what-have-you to suit the sadistic teacher's whims, the occasional tide of relief that came with a session with The Parachute only to discover that you're going to have to "grab a pinnie" and do laps on the muddy field.
But still... I think our society would be a lot happier and more peaceful if everybody exercised. That's why I agree with Anna Griffin at the Oregonian, who says that gym class is a terrible thing to lose. She's responding to a recent announcement by Portland Public Schools that it may have to cut PE teaching positions to save money in the face of Governor Ted Kulongoski's 10% across-the-board budget cuts.
Some parents, health care organizations and corporations have launched an (expensive?) marketing campaign to encourage the school district to tap into $33 million of reserve funds rather than slash PE.
But, asks Griffin,
What about the year after that? Heck, what about the decade after that? Even if school board members opt to preserve PE and cut elsewhere, the broader dilemma remains: Trusting state leaders to solve our financial problems and the current state tax structure to adequately fund public services is like building a sand castle at the beach. Plan big. Work hard. And know that eventually, the tide will come along and erase all your hard work.
So: higher taxes? Or fatter kids? The school board met last night to talk about the budget situation—it looks like PE teacher cuts (among other options) are still on the table, although classroom teachers would be expected to lead students in "physical activities."