Should physical education be mandatory?

According to the state of Illinois, students must take a minimum of three days of physical education.

Interactive Health Technologies

According to the state of Illinois, students must take a minimum of three days of physical education.

Since kindergarten, gym has been a part of every high school student’s daily routine, 42 minutes a day, five days a week. While playing giant parachutes, a quick volleyball scrimmage, or a short match of basketball was fun in elementary and middle school, it can be destructive in high school. Once I started high school I saw the idea of a slightly flexible schedule. While it is mandatory to take the basics such as math, English, history, and science, we had a choice for electives. 

There are two free spaces in each schedule, but one is typically filled by a language. The other space gives students access to an independence and freedom never seen before. Culinary, creative writing, journalism, drama, engineering, fashion design, and poetry classes. This gives students the ability to learn about subjects they have an interest in and an idea of what they will potentially major in or explore further in college. However for us in band and choir, that doesn’t exist. Gym should not be mandatory because it prevents students from exploring topics they are passionate about and does not allow them to be able to beneficially set up their future.

All students, unless given an exemption, must participate in gym. (Chicago Tribune)

I understand why Illinois and the school board had previously made physical education mandatory. It is recommended that the average child exercises around 60 minutes each day. Gym is a practical way to ensure this. However, Education Week states that an average of 57.4% of students participate in either a school sport or a community sport. More students take part in sports or athletics than before in the past because the acceptance rates for colleges are shrinking each year, especially after the pandemic, and the more extracurriculars you participate in, the more viable you are. Also at Hinsdale Central each student walks five minutes to and from each class. That’s 35 minutes of walking each day.

Chicago Public Schools (CPS) state that Illinois School Code makes gym mandatory for a minimum three days a week. Even if it’s not possible to make gym completely optional, it should only be implemented into a students schedule three days a week at Hinsdale Central to give the student two days to take an elective of their interest.

I have played the trumpet since I was 10. While I love to play the trumpet, it also is important to me because I have bad knees so sports is not always an open door as an extracurricular. With this, band is an extracurricular I depend on. However with it I can’t take an elective of my interest. There is an option to take early bird band, however many band students also take early bird band. 

We need your help to fix this problem by contacting the school board (Hinsdale and state) to protest and make an argument to make gym optional. Allowing gym to not be mandatory would give students options in their constrictive schedules, including students in the music department, to set them up for a more sure and successful future.