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High school credits, Reagan-style

The Anderson Herald-Bulletin has an interesting report from South Madison Community School Corp., where the school board was told this week that it can't implement a pay-to-play plan for extracurricular activities because it can't charge for education.

The reason is fascinating: Last year, to cut a half-time phys ed job, the school district began awarding physical education credits for participation in athletics, cheerleading and marching band.

I can't help but think of the Reagan-era USDA classifying ketchup as a vegetable to meet nutrition requirements in the federal lunch program. It's a stretch to suggest participation in cheerleading or a single sport replaces a well-rounded p.e. course; more so to suggest that marching band does.

Granted, my son probably got a terrific workout when he carried a bass drum for Northop High School's Big Orange Pride, but the kid playing vibes in the pit certainly didn't get a workout comparable to what a phys ed class should offer.

And how far could you stretch this? Show choir? Speech and debate? The state's physical education teachers should take notice or they will be replaced with Wii Fit.

I sympathize with school districts trying to make ends meet, but common sense left the building long before this district tried to implement pay-to-play.

Karen Francisco, editorial page editor for The Journal Gazette, has been an Indiana journalist since 1981. She writes frequently about education for The Journal Gazette opinion pages and here, where she looks at the business, politics and science of learning as it relates to northeast Indiana, the state and the nation. She can be reached at 260-461-8206 or by e-mail at kfrancisco@jg.net.

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