Letter: Time to rethink gym class requirement?

To the Editors:

I know this letter will likely draw tremendous criticism. Why would anyone want to reduce physical education requirements for students in light of the reported trends of child obesity? What about all the great things that kids learn in gym, like sportsmanship and camaraderie? I agree that those are important life lessons, but before you dismiss the idea, hear me out.

I was told that our physical education requirement was mandated by the state. After doing some research, I discovered the Connecticut requirement is 1.0 credit hour. Wilton is double that, putting it in the top 17% of schools in Connecticut. Elite high schools that we typically compare ourselves to— Darien, Ridgefield, Greenwich, and Weston, to name a few — have a requirement that is 50% lower than Wilton’s.

Reducing the physical education requirement to 1.0 credit hour would put Wilton’s requirement in line with 58% of the high schools in Connecticut. If a child needs more physical activity or needs to learn more life lessons that physical education promotes, by all means, they should take more than the 1.0 credit requirement. If they would like to take another academic class in lieu of gym, they can do this, too.

This puts the decision of what is best for a child where it belongs — with the child’s parents. As a parent and a taxpayer of a great school system, I would like to think that we continue to be progressive in our thinking and flexible in our approach.

If you agree that the Board of Education should investigate this further, I strongly suggest you call or email our assistant superintendent, Dr. Charles Smith (smithc@wilton.k12.ct.us, 203-762-3381, ext. 8317). Also, the yearly curriculum survey should be coming out soon, and that is another avenue where you can provide input.

Tim Mahon

16 Brandon Circle, May 5