Lawmakers take first run at P.E. rules

Stepping up the state’s physical education requirements may not be a marathon.

But it isn’t going to be a sprint, either.

A House Education subcommittee took a first run at the new P.E. requirements, but took no vote. The panel plans to take up the issue again on Monday.

The rule would require 60 minutes a week of P.E. at the elementary school level, and 200 minutes biweekly at the middle school level. The high school requirements aren’t as stringent, as the State Board of Education dropped plans to require two high school P.E. credits. High school students would be required to take CPR training as part of their health curriculum, and would be able to get one credit for participating on sports teams.

Criticism of the rule came down to a myriad of local control issues.

Boise School District athletic director Matt Kobe said he was concerned about giving high school credit for participating in a club sport. The Boise district already requires two P.E. credits in high school — a guideline he didn’t want to see watered down by statewide rule.

Caldwell school Superintendent Tim Rosandick lauded the idea of promoting fitness. But districts are “essentially understaffed” as they dig their way out of recession-era budget cuts, and a P.E. requirement would only add to the pressure.

Rep. Wendy Horman, R-Idaho Falls, wondered aloud about what would meet a state P.E. requirement — musing about whether the gym class staple of dodge ball would make the grade. She said those decisions should be made locally. “Certainly the expertise is going to rise up from the local districts.”

The P.E. language is embedded in a lengthy, complex rule on a host of credit requirements. This rule must pass either the Senate or House education committee to go into effect, and carry the full weight of law.

In other rules news:

Training requirements. A rule that would ramp up academic requirements for English teachers remains on hold.

Currently, teachers must take 20 upper-level credit hours in order to receive an “endorsement” to teach Eaglish in sixth through 12th grades. The proposed rule would increase that requirement to 45 hours.

Meridian school Superintendent Linda Clark argued against the change. She said teachers would essentially be forced to major in English in order to teach middle school or high school English. And she said the emphasis on studying college-level literature could run counter to the new Idaho Core Standard and their increased emphasis on non-fiction works.

The House Education subcommittee took no action on this rule.

Evaluations. The subcommittee passed a rule that would spell out guidelines for teacher evaluations and new evaluations for principals.

But Committee Chairman Reed DeMordaunt still has heartburn over the rule. He doesn’t like that only a third of the evaluation grade is based on student growth. And he’d like to make sure parental input factors into the evaluation process.

The Eagle Republican said he’d like to see a followup bill to address both concerns. But he recommended approving the rule, since it will help Idaho maintain its waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind law. “I don’t want to go back to No Child Left Behind.”

The subcommittee agreed. The rule now will go to the full House Education Committee for consideration.

More reading: Here’s a link to our Thursday story on the evaluation rule, and the rulemaking process.




Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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