Isabel Gottlieb, a holder of multiple varsity letters in sports, won't be permitted to graduate from her high school . . . because she hasn't taken enough Phys Ed, according to the school principal.
At the school she used to attend, students who participated in varsity sports could receive gym waivers. Not so in Bow, NH.
"Waivers vary from school to school and they're not standardized at all," said Bow High School Principal George Edwards.
Bow requires students to take a PE class called BEST, or Building Essential Skills for Tomorrow. Somehow, when they helped establish Gottlieb's senior year schedule last spring, the Bow counseling office missed the fact that she had not yet taken the class.
Gottlieb added the class in the fall when she was told she had to take it, but then dropped it when she found out it was too much on top of all the other classes she was taking.
Both Gottlieb and her mother said the school suggested dropping either band, chorus, AP biology or calculus. But she and her mother decided sacrificing any of those would have diminished the quality of Gottlieb's education.
"I'm trying to get into college and someone isn't going to want to see someone drop an AP biology class a month into the year in order to pick up P.E.," Gottlieb said.
Our eldest daughter, Amy, had a similar experience in her public high school: they weren't going to let her graduate unless she took another gym class.
Her swimming coach finally gave her the waiver she required. But not after inadvertently revealing the true reason for concern about offering PE waivers.
You see, Amy had lettered in varsity swimming all four years of high school. She had set numerous school swimming records. In her senior year in high school, she not only lettered, but competed in state finals in not one, not two, not three, but four varsity sports (cross-country, swimming, tennis, and track)–an unprecedented achievement. (There are only three sports seasons. And you're normally not able to participate in two varsity sports at one time.) But, y'see, there was this little issue of not enough gym during her senior year. Indeed, she had taken no PE classes, preferring, instead, AP English, Calculus, and other such academic courses.
And lacking any gym in her senior year, she was one class short of the school requirements.
"But, come on! I've received more true physical education this past year in each and every one of my varsity sports than any student in any regular gym class is likely to receive!" Amy argued.
"But what would happen if we gave a waiver to every student who participated in varsity sports?" asked the teacher. "Our PE enrollment would drop."
Ah! And we know what would happen then, don't we?
There wouldn't be as many jobs for PE teachers.
And that would be a difficult problem, indeed, wouldn't it!
After all, public schools are "all about the kids," right?