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Should Band, Sports Be Considered P.E. at Los Gatos-Saratoga High Schools?

New graduation requirement next year irks parents, students who want student band musicians and athletes to be exempt.

The recent adoption of a new graduation requirement making physical education mandatory for incoming ninth graders at both Los Gatos and Saratoga high schools is creating controversy among parents and students.

The issue began being discussed by Los Gatos-Saratoga Union High School District officials on Oct. 2 and then during the board of education's Oct. 16 meeting.

Superintendent Bob Mistele said earlier this month that trustees reviewed the new requirement earlier this year, in February at a board study session.

The change was supposed to take effect this month, however, it's now been postponed at least for Saratoga High School until the Nov. 13 board meeting at 6:30 p.m. at SHS.

Parents are mainly worried about the impact the mandate will have on band, extra-curricular athletics, students' well being, the Saratoga High School health requirements, elective options and education code requirements.

More than 30 speakers addressed trustees on Oct. 2 about the issue, including LGSUHSD Board of Education candidate Katherine Tseng and several SHS students.

"This issue became a big shock to the Saratoga community because it was not communicated to them until Sept. 24," Tseng said. "This type of decision making does not engage the residents and it's not collaborating with stakeholders."

Tseng urged trustees to review the policy and come up with a requirement that best meets the needs of the students.

Right now the controversy is that under the policy, band and extra-curricular  athletics would not be considered physical education.

Tseng said according to California Education Code 51242, the district can make an exception to the requirement for band and school athletes. Tseng said Palo Alto, Homestead and James Logan high schools make the exceptions, the latter having one of the best band programs in the state.

A petition signed by students at Redwood Middle School in Saratoga asking the board to rescind the requirement was also presented as well as a letter from SHS student Sammie Davey, who asked for the same thing.

In the past, student athletes and band members have been exempt from taking physical education as freshmen and sophomores. However, the board enacted the new policy June 5, which would become effective in the 2013-14 school year.

To read the LGHS freshmen transition redesign proposal for the next school year, see attached PDF.

Kit Menkin October 25, 2012 at 03:44 PM
I ran track and played in the marching bank in junior high school and high school. While running is top physical exercise, the marching in a band is a lot of exercise, too, and just because you are in a musical band, doesn't mean you don't play in other sports or are not physically active. Student athletes and band members should qualify and therefore be exempt from physical education requirements. To do otherwise, may influence their time to be in a band or participate in other sports activities.
Devon Dawson October 25, 2012 at 04:11 PM
Marching Band and Extracurricular Sports probably exceed the purpose of the requirement so these students should be exempt. If anything the exemption may motivate some of these kids to participate in these endeavors as an alternative to the general PE requirement.
Ricardo Furioso October 25, 2012 at 04:14 PM
Best typo of the month: "marching bank". My sons row crew at Los Gatos Rowing Club six days a week. Ask yourself a simple question: do they really need PE in school?
CJ Butcher October 25, 2012 at 04:43 PM
Sports should count as PE, but not band. I get that marching band is not an easy thing to do, it does require effort, practice and all else that goes along with it. But I'm sorry, musicians are not by definition athletes and it doesn't meet the "PE" definition.
Mckenna Smith October 25, 2012 at 05:55 PM
Sorry, but marching band is extremely physical and some of these kids are so scrawny, thin. Band practice also takes many hours during the week. I say they should be exempt.
Sivia Van Gundy October 25, 2012 at 06:34 PM
How about a 5'2' young woman carrying a 50 pound tuba on her back during 6 hours of practice in 95 degree heat! These kids start working out 2-3 weeks before school starts and march 3 days a week for an average of 5 hours a day. Its a combo of weight lifting, dance aerobics, and playing an instrument at the same time. Just because some of the kids aren't your typical athlete, doesn't mean they are not doing something athletic. These kids on the whole also maintain a higher grade point average collectively than LGHS football teams.
Sivia Van Gundy October 25, 2012 at 06:37 PM
OH and I forgot the team work. Try getting 100 kids in the case of LGHS and many more than that at SHS to march in a coordinated way, carrying instruments, playing them and carrying flags and props and not crashing into each other! I can barely walk and chew gum at the same time. I think changing this requirement is a big mistake. Music is very important in the development of teens minds and bodies!
Concerned Parent October 25, 2012 at 08:29 PM
Why is it that we are all so concerned with PE requirements that we are all overlooking the obvious? Our freshman will no longer be taking history as Freshman. Yes, they can take it sophomore year but that will limit the students to 3 history classes rather than 4 over 4 years. Saratoga HS is not implementing the same changes. Saratoga students will still be taki g history as freshman it is only LG that is lowering academic standards. What happened to offering our students a rigorous curriculum?
Chuck Page October 25, 2012 at 10:02 PM
PE classes are not just about exercise. I marched in marching band, played football or soccer and ran track in HS (soccer in my area was in the fall). We had PE classes all 4 years back then. Even now, PE classes do a lot more than exercise the students. They get introduced to different sports, life skills, teamwork and individual effort. I know that there aren't too many Saratoga or LG kids that really need an introduction into individual effort. I can understand the concern, because of the time commitment that band takes, which makes this a tough thing for many parents, and I completely understand the debate. The pressure on the kids to perform is tremendous today, it might be good give 'em a period of PE to blow off steam and ease the pressure a bit.
Irene Aida Garza-Ortiz October 27, 2012 at 02:02 AM
No I don't think they should be considered in the same category. However Band could be under "DANCE". Because of the routines. And that is exercise.
Caissie Stephens October 28, 2012 at 06:04 PM
Sadly, the comments I have heard from students at LGHS who do take PE, say it is not a class where physical fitness is truly happening for the kids to benefit. Several students I have talked to have said it is an environment where cardio is limited and it is a waste of time. My daughter participates in sports both in at out of school, and with this new requirement it limits other developmental growth in other areas. Yes, I agree some kids need fitness...but not the students who are all ready getting it through other avenues. A waiver should be offered to these kids.. This new requirement is not a good fit all, so why are we not looking at options.
Marguerite J. McAfee October 28, 2012 at 11:52 PM
This 'debate' as you refer to it is not just about PE. It is about honesty and integrity. The LGSUHSD Superintendent and the LGHS Principal have, and continue to, lie and misrepresent information to the Board members, parents and students. Bob Mistele and Markus Autrey have yet to provide logical justification for this destructive policy change. The efforts of these two men to implement this policy are and the subsequent unethical and unprofessional behavior is grounds for removal from office. Get educated about the details of this policy and the negative consequences it will have on the lives of the students and families impacted prior to making any additional statements of support.
Marguerite J. McAfee October 29, 2012 at 12:02 AM
If you don't think the physical effort necessary to be a member of the SHS Marching Band and Color Guard is 'enough' to 'count' as being athletic please consider joining the 230+ team members as they rehearse this next Wednesday night from 5:30 to 9:00. Be sure to bring a instrument or flag pole to carry, water and good comfortable shoes.
Mike Davey October 29, 2012 at 01:14 AM
Chuck, If you look at the comments from students and parents at LGHS and SHS you'd find that the decision, if implemented, will hurt kids, hurt the sports and band program, and decrease connectedness at the schools. All bad in my mind: https://www.change.org/petitions/principal-autrey-and-principal-robinson-stop-the-implementation-of-freshmen-pe-2

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