Plan to reduce school
PE draws fire

Physical education supporters
weigh in at a hearing on
new graduation standards

A plan to reduce the physical education requirement in public high schools provoked strong protest last night at the first airing on Oahu of proposed changes in the formula for a high school graduate.

"We may end up with a smarter work force, but we may also end up with a sicker work force," said Dr. Lance Shirai, a pediatric cardiologist, one of several speakers opposed to cutting the physical education requirement from one year to half a year.

They argued that the upswing in obesity should be countered with more physical activity, not less.

Others embraced proposals to add a new requirement of two years of fine arts, foreign language or career and technical education.

Seniors would also have to complete a year-long project that includes a civic component.

"I think the senior project is a wonderful idea," said Barbara Tavares, a mother of five, adding that the new academic tracks provide "a lot of choice and diversity for the multitude of learning styles in our population."

Social studies, however, would be pared to three years from four under the plan, a move that concerned some of the 30 people who attended the meeting at Kalani High School. Students would be required to take a course, "Participation in a Democracy."

The proposal was developed over the past two years by the Graduation Requirements Task Force, made up primarily of principals and college admissions staff. The recommendations are intended to make learning more relevant to today's interdependent, technologically driven world and provide more academic rigor.

The task force will consider public input at meetings over the next month and before presenting final recommendations on Feb. 26.

The proposal would then need to be approved by the Board of Education. It would apply to students now in sixth grade, the graduating class of 2010.

Graduates would still be required to complete four years of English, three years of math and three years of science. The number of electives would drop to five credits from six.

The proposal would ensure that each student has a personal academic plan through the high school years, instead of taking a half-credit guidance course.


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