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Athletes and PE: Give them credit for sports

A young woman whose name most Manchester students have never heard is on the verge of changing the city’s health curriculum for the better.

In 2005, a transfer student from Seattle found herself a credit shy of being able to graduate from Bow High School. Isabel Gottlieb asked the school to waive her personal wellness class requirement, as she was a three-letter varsity athlete. The school refused. The super-jock was not allowed to graduate because the school insisted she take the basic physical education course.

Fred Bramante, who was then the chairman of the state Board of Education, pursued a remedy that made perfect sense: Let sports count as physical education credits. Though the board passed that change years ago, many school districts in the state have been slow to adopt it. Manchester is one of them.

On Tuesday, the Board of School Committee’s Coordination Committee approved a policy that would allow athletes to obtain a full health class credit for four seasons’ worth of sports participation. The full board must approve the policy. It should.

Ward 10 school board member John Avard, who proposed the policy, said the sports credit “would allow the students to fill the credit with other academic priorities.” That is exactly right. Athletes would not have to waste time in physical education classes, and could use that time to fulfill other academic goals instead.

It is a testament to the inefficiency of public school bureaucracies that athletes have to take physical education classes. This change would make the system just a wee bit more efficient. It should pass with ease.

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