P.E. rule could get a makeover

A House Education subcommittee wants to slim down a rule on physical education requirements.

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Rep. Wendy Horman, R-Idaho Falls

The eight lawmakers recommended adopting the P.E. requirement — while rejecting language mandating 60 minutes of P.E. at the elementary level and 200 minutes of biweekly activity at the middle school level.

Rep. Wendy Horman, R-Idaho Falls, pushed to pass the rule – which includes a CPR requirement at the high school level for health classes – while excluding the time mandates.

“That move toward quality in P.E. will come at the expense of some other crucial element of student education unless there is funding attached,” Horman told the committee. “If we’re going to mandate minutes we need to have funding attached.”

On Friday, the subcommittee heard concerns from the Caldwell School District about whether the district could pay for or staff the classes under the new rules.

Rules for English teachers

Also Monday, the House subcommittee rejected a portion of a rule to strengthen academic requirements for English teachers.

This language would require teachers to take 45 upper-level credit hours in order to receive an endorsement to teach English in sixth through 12th grade. The current requirement is 20 hours.

“I really struggle with this… this is a huge jump,” said House Education Committee Chairman Reed DeMordaunt, R-Eagle. “I agree 20 is probably too low, but 45 is such a dramatic increase.”

The same proposal came up in the Senate Education Committee on Monday afternoon — and met with skepticism there as well. Committee members questioned the jump in requirements, and said it would make it more difficult for rural school districts to recruit English teachers.

The 45-credit requirement is modeled after a similar guideline in Montana, said Luci Willits, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna’s chief of staff. The department believes an increased emphasis on content will help prepare educators to teach to the new Idaho Core Standards in English. “Those that require more, get more.”

The Senate committee took no action on the rule, and will likely take up the idea later in the week. Chairman John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene, says he hopes the committee will complete its work on rules by Thursday.

Rules need only pass one legislative committee to go into effect — and have the full weight of law. So if Senate Education approves the new English requirements, they could go into effect over House objections.