Committee will study giving PE credits for cheerleading

By City News Service

The San Diego Unified School District Board of Education on Tuesday voted unanimously to form a committee to study whether cheerleading and similar activities can be used to fulfill state physical education requirements.

Members of high school marching bands and Junior ROTC are given exemptions from physical education classes, but cheerleaders and members of drill teams, color guards and show choirs do not.

Such groups deserve to receive credits for their activities, said board member Katherine Nakamura, who sponsored the resolution to form the committee.

“When you don’t allow it for PE credit, you weaken the program and lessen participation,” Nakamura said. “This resolution simply organizes a committee to get the PE requirements nailed down.”

Nakamura quoted a cheerleading booster she spoke to about the issue who said participants have to be as strong as a football player, as graceful as a gymnast and have the endurance of a soccer player, as well as serve as an ambassador for their school.

Nakamura, who lost her bid for re-election in the June primary, has a son in a high school marching band.

Just a few years ago, a law passed by the Legislature was interpreted by many school districts as banning PE exemptions for members of marching bands and JROTC. Nakamura helped lead an effort last year to get the California Department of Education to reinstate the exemptions, and now hopes to extend them for cheerleaders and other groups.

The only opposition came from Sally Smith, who frequently speaks before the board, who called the proposal “pom-pom PE” and said it violated district policy.