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    My second grade daughter’s school had their Open House tonight.  It was exactly what you’d expect; shiny floors, all the teachers and admins in their Sunday best, bulletin boards with encouraging messages and materials stacked on each student desk.  We had a fantastic time, by the end of the 30 minutes we were there Ryann declared it, “The best classroom ever.”  Then we went home.

      Our take home assignment for Ryann was a Scavenger Hunt but for Mom and Dad it was the stack of forms required by Baltimore County Public Schools..  On top of all those fun emergency cards and photo permission slips was the class schedule and for the first time we learned about the subject “Collaborative Arts”.  I don’t know what “Collaborative Arts” is, and I’m certainly not ready to pass judgment on it.  However, I do know that Ryann’s participation in it means she will have, at most, 36 physical education classes this year.  Last year she had 45.  Ugh.

      I like my daughter’s school and administrative staff.  She has been treated well and continues to grow academically.   However, I’m frustrated.  She needs to move, she needs to learn skill, she needs to work in that cooperative environment that the gym provides, and now she has ten less chances.  What is a parent to do?

      Experience tells me there is 0 chance that the schedule changes this year. However, I’ve already sent my first email to the administration asking what Collaborative Arts is. and expressing disappointment that PE (as well as Music, Art, and Library) were decreased.  I’m sure my wife would tell me to stop being “that parent”, who is emailing on Back to School night but I have to advocate.  If I don’t advocate for what I think is best for kids then who will?  

      As a parent, and a physical educator I encourage you to have the challenging conversation with administrators about what is happening in physical education classrooms.  Ask, listen, dialogue but stick to your beliefs of the value of physical education in our schools.

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  1. Derek Scott

    Hey Chris, good reflection on the parent perspective. I can’t imagine being a physical educator-parent and experiencing that frustration in knowing that educational course programming in your child’s school does not reflect what’s best for your child. We have roughly 36 days with our kids by November at my school! What a struggle it must be for those teachers and students where movement and play is clearly not a priority. With all due respect to your wife, I say keep being “that parent” when it comes to your child’s physical education experience!

  2. Nathan Rusk

    Hey Chris, really nicely written piece. It can be very frustrating having an opinion on a given topic and having the school think something else. Being a student, I can tell you that you are absolutely right to be “that” parent and to try and change the way things are. Activity is crucial to being a successful student, I don’t care what anyone says. Students can’t be expected to sit in desks the whole day and pay attention for a long period of time. The brain physically needs activity and I encourage you to keep pushing for more days than 36!