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* Artie’s Note: Last week I decided to use Wade Okawa-Scannell’s “Letter to the Editor” as a basis for an “Opinion” piece.  So I sent it out to our regional newspaper (Raleigh News and Observer).  Weeks have gone by, so they most likely have not decided to print it.

So, each of you have my permission to take what I have written below, edit it to suit your personality and comfort level, and see if you can get it published in your local paper.  I bet you’ll most likely do much better than I did.

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Is It Time to Recall Phys Ed?

TOKYO — In the largest and most costly recall in history, Akio Toyoda, President of Toyota Motors, has vowed to disclose all of the faults and problems with his vehicles and bring about immediate change and action to the 8.1 million cars and trucks sold in the United States and around the world. It is estimated that this will cost $2 billion dollars to Toyota’s bottom line.

Printed in the last week’s editorial column in the Register Star (Hudson, New York) was a letter written by high school student Wade Okawa-Scannell.  In his letter, he brings attention to another product long riddled with faults and problems that makes Toyota’s $2 billion recall look like someone’s pocket change. Okawa-Scannell is a senior at Chatham High School and writes:

What is the goal of a physical education teacher? Clearly, with the obesity numbers becoming quite obese themselves, the proper use of the position is in need. But what sort of class is being run at your local high school?

 

The typical gym class is not stimulating the proper level of activity. It certainly does not help when a physical education teacher uses resources and equipment for his or her own enjoyment during class, leaving a student without a racket, paddle, or position to play.

 

With limited resources and space, two teachers playing a game of badminton takes two available court spaces from two deserving students. These physical education teachers are simply what the title says — teachers. I believe that there needs to be a reform in physical education departments of high schools.

 

Because it is not fair that taxpayer dollars are used to sponsor what is essentially a “playground.” It is a serious position that should teach the values of being healthy to students.  And it most certainly should not take any opportunities away from students to get involved.

 

The title requires an individual to be able to do more than take attendance, play games, and check if a student is dressed for activities accordingly.

No. This position calls for true, not pseudo, dedication. Let this be a reminder to all districts. Why was physical education originally introduced? This is a professional position. Physical education can potentially fight childhood obesity.

The duty should not be taken lightly.

Perhaps it is time to recall another failing product – physical education!

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), obesity in the United States is the “fastest growing public health challenge” our nation has ever faced. We have been warned by medical experts and public health officials that if childhood and youth obesity rates continue in their upward trajectory, the projected costs to United States taxpayers will total some $344 billion in 2018.

Eight years from now, the $2 billion cost that Toyota is now spending to address faulty breaks and sticking accelerators will just be a minor embarrassment compared the “real money” we’ll need to bring to the table!

Clearly, something needs to be done now.  But “how” and “where?”  As in the case with President Akio Toyoda, there is the need to establish a greater level of quality assurance and accountability within K-12 physical education.  This will need to start at the federal level so that these changes will occur in a rapid, yet logical progression.

In the end, President Akio Toyoda apologized to the millions of American customers who had put their faith in his product. Like the recently humbled and contrite golf sports star, President Toyoda stood alone at the podium and is now taking the necessary actions to put all of this behind him.

Let’s do the same for this embarrassment we call “physical education.”

Artie Kamiya

3509 Mossdale Avenue

Durham, North Carolina

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* Originally posted in 2010

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