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Bill Would Expand PE To Include JROTC, Other Activities

Albuquerque Public Schools

UPDATE Wednesday, Feb. 19, 10:59 p.m.: SB 122 passed the House and Senate.

Think physical education means just basketball or track?  Not necessarily, if lawmakers decide to change high school graduation rules and allow school districts to choose other activities to meet the PE requirement. That proposal received a unanimous “high five” from the Senate earlier this week.

SB 122  would let students fulfill their PE requirements with band, cheerleading, or JROTC and other activities if a school district agrees.  

But according to the state Public Education Department, PE classes must be taught by a certified instructor. Deputy Secretary Paul Aguilar says while band and other activities are very valuable for children, PE classes have a dynamic purpose.

“They learn about physical fitness, they learn about proper nutrition, they learn about how to participate in a team environment," Aguilar said. "They learn how to remain physically fit through their lifetime.”

New Mexico's Public Education Department has granted waivers to juniors and seniors, but supporters of the measure say some students who’ve already taken band or JROTC courses have had to drop an academic class in order to meet the PE requirement. 

PED is advising freshmen and sophomores to plan ahead because unless the law is changed during this session, they must take a certified PE course before graduating.