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Posted at 11:16 AM ET, 09/30/2010

How Joel Klein insulted physical education teachers

By Valerie Strauss

Physical education teachers across the country are not taking kindly to New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein's televised comment that they shouldn’t earn as much as math and science teachers.

Klein appeared on the “The View” this week to discuss New York City’s public schools. When the conversation turned to the issue of merit pay for teachers, he said, “Math and science teachers receive the same pay as physical educators,” a statement that, in context, suggested that math and science teachers should earn more than PE teachers.

That, naturally, sparked a backlash from physical education teachers who rightly see their field as important as academics, and believe that Klein betrayed an ignorance of the importance of regular physical activity and its positive effect on student achievement.

They would be right. One of the unfortunate consequences of No Child Left Behind’s focus on standardized tests was a reduction of physical education in many school districts. At a time when the country is dealing with a juvenile obesity epidemic, smart physical education should be in every school.

Paul Roetert, chief executive of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, issued a statement Wednesday that said in part:

“We were disappointed to hear you tell the nation on yesterday’s The View that math and science teachers should earn more than physical education teachers. We believe, and scientific research supports, that educating the “whole child” is vital to a child’s overall academic success. Studies have shown that regular physical activity improves academic performance. The solution to improving our nation’s public education system is not to pit one teacher against another by claiming that one is more important than the other, and should thus earn more. The solution is creating an environment that motivates all teachers to be the best they can be, that honors and rewards our outstanding teachers, that improves the status of the teaching profession, and that acknowledges that academic success is built from achievement in all subjects, including physical education.”

Teachers sent letters to Klein, including this one:

Dear Sir,

By way of introduction, my name is Joe Herzog and I (and my wife as well) was a physical education teacher in the Fresno, California, Unified School District, 1965-2001. Much of my thirty-six years teaching and coaching was spent in southeast Fresno, noted as one of the primary pockets of poverty in the United States. My wife and I have been recognized over the years for our ability to develop unique, 21st century standards based curriculum.

We were watching “The View” the other morning when you made your comment regarding merit pay and math/science and physical education teachers. I suspect that you know, by now that many of my colleagues across the nation, and my wife and I were profoundly disappointed with that statement, to the point of anger.

The blatant inference that science and math teachers were somehow more financially worthwhile than physical educators was dismissive of the role that we play in education as well as demeaning to the entirety of our discipline.

Little if any of the research that I have read justifies the implementation of “merit pay.” The fundamental reason for that is that the vast majority of all teachers, Physical Educators included, already work about as diligently as is possible. My workday usually began at 6:30 a.m. (At school) and ended about 5:30 p.m., and I was almost never the last to leave campus. Then of course, you can tack on a couple of hours work at home, which every teacher does. The current media frenzy that education is full of bad teachers is simply another demonstration of ultra-conservative histrionics and hyperbole. The profession is however replete with teachers who are frustrated, angry, discouraged and burned out. You can chalk that up to NCLB/RTT and high stakes testing, in large measure.

More to the point, there now exists a veritable tidal wave or research that delineates the fundamental role and value of exercise/physical activity/physical education, not just in the process of developing physical health, but also as the foundation of learning, itself.

Has no one in education taken the time to read the works of Harvard's Dr. John Ratey; the Univ. of Hawaii retired neuro-physiologist, Dr. Carla Hannaford; Seattle Pacific Developmental Molecular Biologist, Dr. John Medina; University of California at San Francisco’s, Dr. Michael Merzanich; or Eric Jensen of the Jensen Learning Center in San Diego County, just to name a few?

Those who have now understand that ALL learning is movement based. Physical exercise is principally responsible for the growth, expansion and overall health of nerve cells, without which no information can be processed and no considerable amount of learning can take place.

The mea culpa is, of course, to admit that there are physical educators out there who are not up to the demands of the profession. Of course we know that. The same thing can be said about math or science or language arts of foreign language or music teachers, or teachers of any other discipline. The same charge might even be leveled at certain school administrators. I have worked for both the very good and the very bad.

My perspective, from my time in the profession is that most of the “bad” teachers could have been dealt with early on if site administrators took the time to do their job in a thorough, professional manner. My experience is that this does not always happen, and in the instance of physical educators, that lax practices were frequently permitted to go unchallenged to serve the master of inter-scholastic athletics. An overt case of the tail wagging the dog, it seems.

I must tell you sir, that your statement, on “The View” was intemperate. As a physical educator who has the responsibility for the social, emotional, physical, and yes, the academic growth of all of my students, my value is no less than that of any other educator. I believe that with the modernization of physical education philosophy and practice over the course of the past thirty years, that properly applied and wholly integrated, physical education is the most valuable of all disciplines.

I encourage you to investigate the physical program at any number of schools. First and foremost is that program at Naperville Central HS, in Naperville, Illinois. But there are many others whose excellence and value are on a virtual par with that of Naperville. Sierra Vista Middle School, Canyon Country, Calif., the entire program in Delano, Calif., a desperately poor, but wholly vibrant school district, or the program in Titusville, Penn.

Quality physical education programs abound and they are served by the finest of educators that this country can produce. I am proud to call myself a “Physical Educator.” I am dismayed that you see us in any lesser light. You have done so in error.

Respectfully,

Joseph Herzog, Chair, Region 28, Cal. Assoc. Health, Phys. Educ., Recreation & Dance
Central California Regional Obesity Prevention Program
California Project Lean
Building Healthy Neighborhoods Task Force
Consultant, Fresno Unified School District

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By Valerie Strauss  | September 30, 2010; 11:16 AM ET
Categories:  Health, Teachers  | Tags:  joel klein, klein teachers, physical education, physical education teachers, the view  
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Comments

Joel Klein did on The View what he is constitutionally driven to. It's what made him the Chancellor of the nation's largest public school system: a talent for promoting division. In this specific case it was to divide math and science teachers from physical education teachers.

A capitalist economy carefully guards ruling class unity. See George W. Bush holding hands with Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah. See Dick Cheney's Halliburton relocate to Dubai.

Meanwhile, the system hammers relentlessly on every human relationship in an attempt to break every bond between working people. It will if it can reduce every person to their weakest and most easily exploitable state of existence, the individual. The system ultimately seeks to "atomize" society, the formula for maximum profits, at least until that society collapses.

Look underneath the every one of their tools: merit pay, school choice, vouchers, standardized testing, charters, Teach For America, union bashing, and you'll find a wedge being driven between people.

Unity!

Posted by: natturner | September 30, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

"That, naturally, sparked a backlash from physical education teachers who rightly see their field as important as academics, and believe that Klein betrayed an ignorance of the importance of regular physical activity and its positive effect on student achievement."

No, Klein demonstrated an understanding of basic economics that appears to be completely escaping some teachers.

In the realm of medicine, different doctors make different salaries. Why? Isn't it relatively easy to argue that all may be essential to a person's health? Why should a cardiologist make more than a general practitioner?

The answer is supply and demand.

There is a relatively abundant supply of physical education teachers (as well as elementary education teachers). Are they critical to the success of the schools and the students? Of course.

There is a relative scarcity of math and science teachers. Are they critical to the success of the schools and the students? Of course.

In a well functioning system, the relative scarcity of math and science teachers would increase the amount schools paid for such teachers - which over time would encourage more entries into those fields to reduce that scarcity.

Fair compensation is not the same as equal pay. The market for physical education teachers is not the same as the market for math and science teachers - and the salaries offered should be reflective of that.

Posted by: FYIColumbiaMD | September 30, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Since Mr.Klein believes there is some sort of hierarchy among the various teaching disciplines, I'd be curious to have him spell out his rankings. We already know he's interested in ranking students and schools. So let's see his view of which teachers and disciplines are important and which are not. Is a music teacher more important than a ceramics teacher? How about dance as opposed to physics? It would certainly save people people the choice of trying to teach and find work in a discipline the Chancellor doesn't find important. Why look for a job in phys ed when you should try to teach math? Teach for America can load up on physics majors and forget trying to recruit philosophy majors or classics majors. Or Mr. Klein could just come right out and say it one more time: "Those who can't do teach, those who can't teach, teach gym."

Posted by: briobrio33 | September 30, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

The teachers quoted sound wonderful; too bad there are not more of them. Here in Roane County, TN where I subbed for a period of time, every single phys. ed. teacher I subbed for still used dodge-ball as an exercise program. They had kids doing warm-up routines that were clearly against the trainings I had from USA Hockey based on physical models from the NHL. Sometimes when I subbed, there would be two of us in the gym- another phys. ed teacher and myself. The class would be asked to run but no attention was made to proper running techniques and such. In short, the level of instruction was what I received back in the 1970s when I attended grammar school. To say I was flabbergasted is an understatement.

On those rare times when I was by myself, I was able to incorporate newer models of exercise and training. The kids loved it and I explained the purpose and the benefit of each movement we performed. Yes, we did the exercises together so that the kids would get the proper explanation of the move in question. The kids usually asked me when I was coming back.

I am a pro-union person having done union organizing when I was younger. Unions are a godsend as they protect teachers from random firings (for example, here in Roane County, the best teacher my son ever had and one who raised her student's test scores, was denied tenure- protection- because the principal told her that being a good teacher wasn't enough; turned out he had a friend who needed her job) and unions generally fight for livable wages.

Still, there must be a method created that can reward teachers of the higher arts. Yes, phys. ed is vital but we have a shortage of math and science teachers and higher pay should be offered to them; especially when phys. ed seems to have more than its fair share of truly bad teachers.

Posted by: bokun59 | September 30, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Seems just the reverse and physical ed teachers should be paid more than science and math teachers. In fact we probably should not have science and math teachers in public schools.

The current government policy is to accept that American jobs in the sciences and math can be done by cheap foreign labor. President Obama talks about the non exportable jobs for Americans and these are all labor intensive.

Fields that Americans dominated in 2000 are no longer for Americans and the enrollments of American have dropped in the key fields of the 21st century. No sense in spending $50,000 to $100,000 for education in a field where there are no jobs for Americans.

The House Committee on Science and Technology June 12, 2007

As Dr. Alan Blinder, one of today’s witnesses testified, these examples seem to be only the tip of the iceberg. Dr. Blinder has estimated that more than one in four American jobs are vulnerable to offshoring. More striking is his finding that most American technical jobs in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields are amongst the most vulnerable to offshoring.

Posted by: bsallamack | September 30, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

PE is necessary (in fact, there should be more of it) but it is MUCH easier to teach than Math, or remedial reading, or foreign language, or a few other crucial subjects. That's why there are so many candidates; it is just not very hard to teach PE. So both the law of supply and demand, and the desire to compensate those who need more talent and who work harder, contribute to the reasonableness of paying PE teachers less. Along with Driver Ed teachers, and a few other subjects.

Posted by: jane100000 | September 30, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse

This idea of New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein simply displays to Americans the lack of intelligence of Joel Klein.

Does anyone with common sense believe that large numbers of teachers that want to teach a subject such as English are going to simply switch to science or math because the pay for science or math is higher?

Any American that is not a teacher hater knows that teaching is not a very high paying field and the motivation is not money.

This is the same lack of intelligence that is displayed by the former CEO of Microsoft and Intel that now complain that Americans since 2001 are no longer enrolling in the computer sciences and electrical engineering.

These CEO's in 2001 joined in the offshoring of all the American jobs in these fields to cheap foreign labor and now are surprised that American students are not going to spend $50,000 to $100,000 to enroll in a field where there are no entry level jobs for Americans.

Sometimes I think the problem is not our current educational system but our previous educational system where apparently so many adult Americans are not intelligent and totally lack common sense.

Posted by: bsallamack | September 30, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Joseph Herzog's letter is beautifully articulated.

It seems that every time there is a major crisis in our nation the call goes forth for more math and science teachers. It would appear that if every pre-college age student took calculus and physics all of our nation's problems would be solved.

Given the apparent ignorance & greed of the American public and banks in handling financial affairs, it seems that we need
very basic $money skills, bookkeeping, home economics, what have you.....save the calculus for the truly math oriented student and college.

As far as science goes, the biological sciences seem to be the most urgent as we have a huge health care crisis - and, it is often the Physical Education teacher who teaches basic health, safety and CPR.

Many of our politicians and business leaders set very poor examples by decrying the worthiness of other human endeavors, and ethics, particularly, seems pretty far down the list.

Posted by: PLMichaelsArtist-at-Large | September 30, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Hmm. I think Chancellor Klein might be on to something. Haven't American children been getting more obese over the past few decades? Shouldn't PE teachers be held accountable for this lack of fitness in American schoolchildren? If PE teachers had been doing their jobs, children would have become more physically fit, right? So I think we ought to start testing children's physical fitness and rewarding the PE teachers who are most effective, based on their students' test results. And I certainly hope PE teachers won't resort to those tired old excuses about factors outside school being beyond their control. A good teacher ought to be able to overcome the disadvantages caused by kids eating a half-gallon of ice cream in front of the television every night. And if you disagree with me, you clearly aren't putting the children's needs first.

Posted by: berniehorn | September 30, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

So I think we ought to start testing children's physical fitness and rewarding the PE teachers who are most effective, based on their students' test results.
Posted by: berniehorn
....................
Since the number of pregnant unmarried teens is such a big problem should we start evaluating and hold accountable the teachers that teach sex education.

The reality is that teachers are responsible for all our problems.
Look at the latest.

Obama Says the Future of U.S. Economy Depends on a Better Education System
By Roger Runningen - Sep 27, 2010

President Barack Obama said U.S. public education systems should extend the school year and weed out the worst-performing teachers because the future of the nation’s economy depends on a more educated workforce.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-09-27/obama-says-the-future-of-u-s-economy-depends-on-a-better-education-system.html

It appears teachers are responsible for the economy.

Great that we no longer have to weed out crooks.

Posted by: bsallamack | September 30, 2010 3:58 PM | Report abuse

I firmly believe that physical education must play a critical role in attacking the childhood obesity crisis negatively impacting our young people.

I came across a couple quotes that hit me like a ton of bricks. I think they really drive home the challenge we’re all facing today. According to Dr. William J. Klish, professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine, “Children today have a shorter life expectancy than their parents for the first time in 100
years.” Think about that, given the medical and technological advancements of the last several decades. “Children today have a shorter life expectancy than their parents for the first time in 100 years.” That’s a scary but powerful statement.

Dr. K.M. Venkat Narayan, diabetes epidemiologist for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated, “One in every three U.S. children born after 2000 will become diabetic unless many more people start eating less and exercising more.” One in every three!

I think former surgeon general, Dr. Richard Carmona, summarized the situation the best when he said, “As we look to the future and where childhood obesity will be in 20 years… it is every bit as threatening to us as is the terrorist threat we face today. It is the threat
from within."

Physical education can be a key part of the solution to that threat, maybe the most important part of the solution. However, for that to be the case, several issues must be addressed. There are three key problems with our nation’s current physical education system:

1) The dramatic decline in the number of students taking physical education classes on a daily basis

2) The continued emphasis on the “sports model” of physical education that overemphasizes team sports skill development and participation at the expense of health and wellness education and lifelong physical activity skill development and participation

3) Grading students based on skills and innate abilities versus effort and progress toward individualized goals.

PE programs need to be about getting kids active now and instilling the lifetime benefits of health and wellness. They must be about enabling each student to maintain a physically-active lifestyle forever. They must emphasize fitness and wellbeing, not athleticism. They must eliminates practices that humiliate students. And they must assesses students on their progress in reaching personal physical activity and fitness goals. PE programs must expose kids to the fun and long-term benefits of movement – it’s really that simple.

Posted by: ultimatewarrior | September 30, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

As Dr. John Ratey, an expert on exercise’s impact on the brain from Harvard Medical School says, “The greatest fallacy in American education today is that dropping physical education will improve academic performance.”

Posted by: ultimatewarrior | September 30, 2010 4:42 PM | Report abuse

As important as phys ed, art and music are academic subject teachers should be paid more. If for no other reason, how many papers do these specialist correct on a daily basis? What's their lesson preparation compared to that of a math or English teacher? At parent conference time, how do the schedules of these three specialists compare to that of any academic teacher? How much less effort is there for the art teacher to give everyone in the room the same grade while the academic teacher has to come up with a substantiated grade for all their students?

Come on all you union cronies. Get real. There's no comparison of a specialist to an academic subject teacher. The academic teachers are taxed much more in workload than their specialists counterparts, much more. Be honest.

The problem for the unions? How does anyone decide the actual value for each discipline? Boy, would that create a stink, or what?

Posted by: phoss1 | September 30, 2010 6:21 PM | Report abuse

As important as phys ed, art and music are academic subject teachers should be paid more. If for no other reason, how many papers do these specialist correct on a daily basis? What's their lesson preparation compared to that of a math or English teacher? At parent conference time, how do the schedules of these three specialists compare to that of any academic teacher? How much less effort is there for the art teacher to give everyone in the room the same grade while the academic teacher has to come up with a substantiated grade for all their students?
____________________________
Phoss1--You clearly have no clue as to what is expected for specialists. As a music teacher at the elementary level, I have over 500 students which I am expected to assess regularly. The school system has a curriculum with assessments for each elementary grade level..] It might surprise you but specialists regularly contact parents and participate in parent conferences as we have concerns about students we teach. It is often helpful to the classroom teacher to have support from other teachers when dealing with parents who don't accept that their child might not be doing his/her best at school. I submit about 500 grades at report card time as well. I teach 5 to 6 different preps every day, often having to provide my own materials. Art and p.e. is treated the same way. The arts are quite rigorous when taught correctly. They also require a lot of planning and materials preparation. The problem is that many people equate public school arts programs to those they see at summer camps.

My colleagues and I used to jokingly call ourselves the "cruise directors" because people seemed to think that I (music) provided entertainment, the p.e. teacher provided recreation and the art teacher provided decorations. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Posted by: musiclady | September 30, 2010 7:03 PM | Report abuse

As important as phys ed, art and music are academic subject teachers should be paid more.
Posted by: phoss1
...............
Except during long periods of war like now when we need more soldiers and physical ed teachers should be paid the most.

Of course we also need different rates for other teachers that is totally dependent upon their actual work. Teachers that have to read and correct essays should get more money than math teachers since it takes longer for them to grade homework and tests.

We should carry the same idea to colleges and universities and pay teachers differently dependent upon their field.

The same idea should be carried over to the entire nation.

New car salesmen should make more than used car salesmen. This is true only if the new cars are American made.

Mailmen that mainly walk should be paid more than mailmen that drive.

Policemen in high crime areas of a city should be paid more than those in low crime areas. Policemen in areas with cheap donuts should be paid less than policemen in areas with expensive donuts.

And of those who have little if any intelligence and always come up with stupid ideas should be paid nothing.

I am always amazed at those who post and display their total lack of intelligence and are usually the ones who believe in pay by performance. Based upon the ideas of these individuals they should not be hired by anyone or paid anything.

Posted by: bsallamack | September 30, 2010 8:28 PM | Report abuse

How much less effort is there for the art teacher to give everyone in the room the same grade while the academic teacher has to come up with a substantiated grade for all their students?
_____________________

In High School, at least, the Art grade is very complex; High School Art Classes follow fairly exacting objectives, and a portfolio that follows a basic rubric takes a substantial amount of time to keep on top of and grade appropriately. At the Elementary levels, the grading is more basic, but as musiclady pointed out, those teachers may have to teach anywhere from 500-800 students at 3 different schools!

Aside from grading issues, materials preparation, ordering, purchasing & budgeting issues (90 sketchbooks for Art I students @ $4.95 + 180 pencils @.65 + 90 erasers @ $1.25 for 9 weeks; 20 shades of construction paper, 9x12", 12X18".....) , and changing room displays are extremely complex and time consuming....putting up art shows takes unbelievable amounts of time - in addition to matting and mounting artwork, labeling,and being sure to represent every student in a show at least 3 or 4 times a year.

Additionally, most 'specials' teachers have to accommodate a wider range of student abilities as our schedules are not considered the priority that academic schedules enjoy.....so what if a student with no art history knowledge or poor skills winds up in a more advanced class?

Don't get me wrong; most specials' teachers love their subjects and are willing to do whatever it takes, but it might be helpful for people like phoss1 to realize that "the good ones make it look easy".

It's not...easy.

Posted by: PLMichaelsArtist-at-Large | September 30, 2010 8:43 PM | Report abuse

My normal class load was about 190-200 students but ran as high as 300+, in the early days. From the early 90's on, all of my students kept a daily fitness log, records of heart rate taken multiple times a day. They wrote, in complete sentences, each day their experiences in class, their expectations and whether or not they achieved daily/weekly goals.

I read EVERY log (at home), correcting spelling and grammar, along the way. Kids received extra credit for going back and re-writing and making corrections, and the vast majority did so, regularly. Since I and my colleagues frequently integrated our curriculum (e.g. Fencing with world history, and I taught Newton's laws of motion, levers and axes of rotation which greatly pleased our science teachers)we were well aware of the time and effort of our "classroom" partners. Yes, each discipline is different from all others. ALL are challenging, but each in it's own way. When all educators take the time to read the research on the inherent, inescapable relationship between physical exercise and neuro-genesis, than perhaps, hopefully they will gain greater appreciation for the role of physical education AND the physical educator. Perhaps they will then do a more comprehensive job of observation and evaluation and thus raise the quality of instruction and help those physical educators who are not meeting state and national standards to do so.

I have seen a quality PE program change the entire atmosphere, for the better,of a seriously challenged school. It changed because we integrated with our classroom partners and we made PE, rigorous, novel, comprehensive and FUN. Yes, kids like to have fun, as do adults.

If it worked at our school, it can work anywhere. There are models all over the country, as I mentioned in my letter to Chancellor Klein. Find them,observe them and adopt what you can. You will love the result.

Joe Herzog,
Fresno, California

Posted by: bigfish344 | September 30, 2010 10:12 PM | Report abuse

I had no idea teachers were paid the same amount regardless of discipline. That's ridiculous.

A PE teacher can aspire to be a college football coach, many of them receive quite high salaries. (however, they are subject to frequent performance evaluations and have no tenure...)

Posted by: staticvars | September 30, 2010 11:53 PM | Report abuse

Joel Klein is right... if we accept that the only learning outcomes that matter are those which are directly related to Math and ELA standardized test scores. No... come to think of it, he's still wrong.

Joel Klein isn't an educator so he would have no real notion of the inter-relatedness of all learning. He's never worked in a school. He's never crafted a lesson. He's never had to build a relationship with a child and then learn to leverage that relationship to engineer learning that way that brilliant teachers do every day.

In Joel Klein's mind, the concept of teaching and learning is simple. Unfortunately, his business-minded approach to curriculum and pedagogy is fatally flawed. And our children suffer for it.

Adeyemi Stembridge, PhD

Posted by: adeyste | October 1, 2010 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Klein is right. I'M a teacher (history, thanks); those jokers that run a volleyball game in the gym every day don't deserve jobs. A basketball break in the middle of the day is the last thing that kids who are several grades behind in reading need.

Posted by: daisyriot | October 1, 2010 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Daisyriot - Those so called physical education teachers in your school should not be allowed to teach this way. If they are, blame the administration. There are many great PE teachers who would love to take over a program like that.

Posted by: weissice | October 1, 2010 3:34 PM | Report abuse

There can be little doubt concerning the importance of cardio vascular fitness in neurological development at all ages when reviewing the research Joseph Hertzog pointed out such as that of Dr. Jon Raty. The misconception of the lack of work performed by a Physical Educator amazes me. I am a recently retired Health/P.E. teacher and coach. My day began between 6 and 8 AM depending on coaching responsibilities. 8 until 8:30 I checked in electronic babies which I had sent home with students to help them get a grip on the responsibilities of parenting. Until 3:30 I taught health, outdoor education, and various other activity classes. During my lunch I supervised lunch. My planning was spent as any other teacher with meetings, planning for classes, updating web site, communicating with parents for both coaching and teaching, cleaning up CPR manniquins, assessing student work. 3:30 I checked out mechanical babies, some days had bus duty. 4:00 one day a week I met with the Red Cross Club. 4:30-6:30 was my personal exercise time. Swim practice began at 7:30 and ended at 9:30 4 days a week and Saturday mornings for 4 months of the school year including Thanksgiving and Christmas. Yes, I am married and raised a family. The 26 years I taught Outdoor Education I took students on many away from school activities such as hiking, backpacking, gourmet cooking over the open fire, rock climbing, snow skiing, caving, trout fishing. I ran blood drives, fund raisers for natural disasters and mailings to our service men and women with the Red Cross Club. I was able to do these things because I coached one sport rather than three. This may sound like I am the unique but that is not the case. Many of our teacher/coaches do much more coaching 3 sports, spending their summer in sports camps and summer conditioning. We become part of the village that raises the child. We are the teachers who are invited to weddings, graduation parties, christenings because we have spent many hours helping the child in their personal and educational growth.
Yes, we work crazy hours. I loved my teaching career. How can you put a value on what a typical teacher/coach contributes to the education of our children? Please don't devalue us by paying us less than another teacher due to subject matter taught. As one of my students said in an "AH HA" moment in the middle of class, "I get it. The other classes make a difference in getting a job and going to college, but this class makes a difference in if and how I survive."
I forgot to include, I am a woman.

Posted by: keeponswimming | October 1, 2010 9:46 PM | Report abuse

If we are going to have phys ed teachers in the schools, they should be paid on the same basis as other teachers. I wonder, though, if we couldn't replace phys ed classes with "exercise periods." Just take the kids to the gym or the running track and tell them they can walk around and talk to their friends, bicycle, race each other, shoot baskets, whatever, just so they kept moving for the entire period. Granted, this would require a change in the facilities and some organization so they didn't knock each other flat, but health spas manage to make different activities available. (Maybe the schools could incorporate spa-like facilities and recoup some of the investment by making it available to the public after school hours.) I suppose, if the facilities included a swimming pool, it might require extra expenditure for a lifeguard. (I don't think a school would try the technique of my mother's high school back in the 1920s. She was excused from phys ed because of a heart murmer but was a Girl Scout and swam well, so they made her the lifeguard for the African American students' pool!)

This would get every kid moving and those of us who hated organized sports wouldn't think or "fitness" as something to be avoided. It also could be done by non-coaches, which would save the klutzes from the criticism and scorn that taught us mostly to find excuses not to participate.

And those students who are crazy about sports could participate in community leagues or after-school activities.

Posted by: sideswiththekids | October 2, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

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