Elementary students want qualified teachers on their team

By Amanda Hunt

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Perhaps the loudest voices heard at the physical education community forum last night were from children.

"Whose education are you messing with? Mine, your children's, everybody's. Tell that to the board of (regents)," said 13-year-old Kirstin Nelson, who attends Carson Middle School. Nelson said there are not any qualified physical education teachers at her school and is upset about the program's possible closure.

Shayna Garner, 10, said there are not any qualified teachers at her school, Kellond Elementary, either and "if the university closes this department, I won't ever have one."

About 300 students, teachers and members of the community gathered together at the Doubletree Hotel to support the physical education program.

The group gathered to voice their opinions about the proposed cut of the undergraduate program to the Physical Education Review Committee. Spokespeople argued that physical education is important in every aspect from reducing stress to impacting a "tremendous" amount of students in the Tucson Unified School District to it being an essential part of everyone's lives and academic education.

Last night's community forum was the last of three forums designed to gather facts for the committee. The student forum took place last week and the faculty forum took place Tuesday.

Addresses for the Arizona Board of Regents were passed out and people were encouraged to write letters and attend the open session of the regents meeting next week.

The committee is a compilation of students, staff and faculty including three representatives from the exercise and sport sciences department. The committee will submit a report simultaneously to University of Arizona President Manuel T. Pacheco and the UA Faculty Senate.

Last month, Pacheco seconded Provost Paul Sypherd's recommendation to eliminate the program by 1998. Physical education, journalism and statistics are the three programs proposed for elimination. The regents will make the final decision on the future of the programs in question.

In Pacheco's statement, he said the program should be eliminated because it is "not sufficiently central to the university's mission to justify devoting substantial resources to its support."

The topic of the university's mission statement and centrality was hotly contested at all of the forums. TUSD administration said that in the long run, elimination of the department would be devastating to students and the community.

Sue Jones, agency manager with State Farm Insurance and a previous exercise and sport sciences professor, argued the business aspect of the cuts. She said the "room is filled" with graduates of a program that is in high demand. She said the university must answer the question, "Who are our customers and can we meet that demand?"

Sheila Baize, director of interscholastics with TUSD, said elimination of the program would have "a negative impact" on many. At the present time, Baize added that it is difficult to find athletic trainers and physical education teachers and this move "would severely restrict the quality" and quantity of hopeful educators.

If the program is eliminated, one physical education faculty member will be moved to the education department to teach a two-unit course in physical education.

"The university must value physical education if they are going to place one faculty member in the education department to teach a two-unit class in teaching physical education," said Arlene Morris, exercise and sport sciences faculty member.

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