To The Daily Sun,
In this world where childhood obesity is on the rise, is cutting back on physical education and health education opportunities a good decision?
At Woodland Heights School, all the specialists' positions are being cut to four-fifths time employment. This is being done as a way to compensate for budgetary constraints. "They" say that this cutback will not have an impact of the specials opportunities that children receive, or will it?
My first concern I will raise is the fact that Pleasant Street School and Elm Street School students have physical education class two times per week while Woodland Heights School has it only once. In this day when the district is trying to get all of the elementary schools to be cohesive and run more uniformly, why this major discrepancy between schools? Do parents at WHS know that their child has PE only once a week while the other elementary schools have it twice? If they did, would this concern them? I can tell you that it concerns this parent.
My second concern is that the "powers-that-be" are just looking at a paper schedule and seeing a lot of open holes in the specialist schedules. They are not seeing the endless enrichment opportunities that the specialists are doing above and beyond the paper schedule. If the PE teacher's time gets cut, gone are the health education classes that are happening in conjunction with the UNH Cooperative Extension and the extra PE classes that some of the classes are receiving.
I love that my child is able to get exposure to music, art and library. The question I raise: Is there really a need for computer class at the elementary level? I had been thinking recently that I would love to see the district get rid of computer class, an ungraded class lasting 40 minutes per week, and replace it with a health class. Research has shown the positive impact that a consistent health curriculum can have at the elementary level. Obviously, with the cut-backs, this dream will not come to fruition. Is the Laconia School District blinded by the technology bug, this bug that is infecting our children, sucking the life out of them... literally. This heavy emphasis on technology is causing our children to be less physically active, less socially aware, less able to sit and hold their attention and reinforces the need for instant gratification.
In this day and age, computers are a way of life, I understand that they are here to stay. Think of it this way if you will. Computers are a tool that we use, similar to using a pencil. Do we have a specific class dedicated to using a pencil? No. Learning to use a pencil is integrated in daily classroom activities. Students' exposure to computers and technology can be handled at the main classroom level, as it is now, with classroom Netbooks and iPads allowing them to get a basic introduction. They will see and witness how technology can be used in life as their teachers use iPads, laptops, document cameras and smart boards. More in-depth computer education should then be started when they get to middle school and continuing in high school. It is no longer the 1990s and 2200s when the advancements in technology surpassed our knowledge and we needed to catch up. We are living it and learning it as part of everyday life.
Elementary school children do not need more encouragement to be on electronics, taking them further away from being physically and emotionally active and healthy. Please consider keeping physical education as a full-time position with the hope that we can even expand this and get the children moving more and more interested in health. I have offered up, in my mind, a viable option. Will Laconia School District consider it? I hope they do.