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Quote Of The Day - Higher Education Edition

"Why would I drop an AP biology class to take P.E.?"
Bow High School (N.H.) senior Isabel Gottlieb, whose school refused to grant her a waiver for the required gym course (Building Essential Skills for Tomorrow), which interfered with her already heavy schedule that includes two Advanced Placement classes and calculus. Rather than grant a waiver from the PC-sounding "gym" course, the fine educators at Bow told Gottlieb she had to drop one of her AP courses to to take gym.

Teen skips gym, loses diploma - [AP/Boston Globe]

Update: The author of the story picked up by the AP, Todd Morrison, notes in the comment section that there's more detail in in The Union Leader version of the story, Bow senior tripped by P.E. requirement (w/pic).

Comments (23)

To be honest, my sympathies... (Below threshold)

To be honest, my sympathies aren't with Isabel. The gym class was a req'd course. She had the opportunity to drop another less than...ummm...rigorous...class in the form of band or "chorus" and chose not to.

Never in my life was I aske... (Below threshold)

Never in my life was I asked for my high school diploma. Assuming the college she hopes to attend is not stupid, neither will they.

I don't see anything wrong ... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

I don't see anything wrong with requiring students to take a PE class for graduation, although you would think the school could have worked something out for her to get the credit without having to drop the AP courses.

I'm sorry, but an AP class ... (Below threshold)

I'm sorry, but an AP class beats a gym class any day. It is not the school's job to let you play kickball for a period; it's the school's job to educate you. I took 1 AP class last year and 4 this year; if I found out I would've had to drop an AP class to take gym I would've flipped out.

My high school journalism t... (Below threshold)

My high school journalism teacher had a saying: "The first sign of intelligence is the ability to read directions."

Isabel isn't graduating - and that's apparently fine with her and her future college. That makes this a non-story to me.

Good grief, she lettered in... (Below threshold)
Mark Flacy:

Good grief, she lettered in 3 sports. D'ya really think that she needs bloody PE class?!?

The first sign of intelligence is the ability to THINK.

Mark,Yeah, I found... (Below threshold)


Yeah, I found that a bit odd too. At my high school, if you played a sport or were in the band you were exempted from PE. As far as the actual "PE" class, that was just a bunch of kids going to the gym and shooting basketball or sitting on the bleachers anyway.

According to the story, she... (Below threshold)

According to the story, she didn't take the PE class initially because she had received PE waivers from her previous high school because she was on an athletic team ... and the new high school wasn't willing to accept those waivers.

Sounds like bureaucratic intransigence to me.


Don't see what the big deal... (Below threshold)

Don't see what the big deal is. At my high school you had to take 3 years of gym, regardless of your athletic involvements. I was still able to complete five AP courses, one of which was a two year course.

Two things:1) states... (Below threshold)

Two things:
1) states often determine the requirements for graduation , not school districts
It may be that four years of PE are required by the state of New Hampshire for a diploma to be awarded.

2) states also determine whether a student may get credit for participating in athletics as part of their PE requirement
But they often do not allow exemptions for things like health or sex ed which are part of the PE courses a high schooler must take. Without more information about the required class it is hard to tell if this was a classroom program (paper, pencil and book) or a gym program (exercise and activity).

Okay-3 things.

3) The young lady in question moved from one state to another and got caught in the differences between the states. One gave credit the other does not.

Inflexibility on a local level often is a sign of bureaucratic obsurdity.

That said, life is full of choices, she should have dropped the chorus or band class to meet the PE requirement. She had the option and blew it.

This one is a "poster case"... (Below threshold)

This one is a "poster case" for everything that's wrong with public education; bureaucratic, unbending, inflexibile, senseless and above all else, catering to the lowest common denominator. Welcome to Cow Hampshire!

Who cares? I was going to b... (Below threshold)

Who cares? I was going to be in a situation like this (but it involved math, not P.E. -- you had to have a certain number of math credits to graduate, but I took their highest math class in 10th grade). Then I realized the college I wanted to go to was used to taking in kids who didn't have high school diplomas. So I was considering going to college instead of my junior year of high school. (I ended up in a different high school the next year, though.)

If you've got a college degree, you don't need a high school diploma.

And the college I went to required 4 semesters of PE classes. Because it was college, though, the classes were much cooler -- I took weightlifting and rock climbing, for instance.

So I just go =bah= on this. Who cares? She's going to college. A high school diploma ain't worth squat.

There are many states that ... (Below threshold)
Steve L.:

There are many states that don't give PE credit for athletics. Here, the law only just changed to allow that beginning next year. The graduation requirements are what they are.

At some point, she and her parents had to become responsible for ensuring that she checked off all the boxes needed. Personally, I think the statement "The missing credit wasn't caught by the school last spring when Gottlieb's schedule was set" is a crock. More and more, we are shifting responsibility for our failures onto other people. No one is responsible for our succes except ourselves. They are attempting to blame the school for saying that a student must follow the rules to graduate. How dare the school act in such a arbitrary and capricious manner!

I'm with meep -- screw the ... (Below threshold)
Cousin Dave:

I'm with meep -- screw the diploma. Really. These days, the typical high school diploma isn't worth the paper it's printed on. What with grade inflation, political correctness, and the general suckiness that pervades a lot of schools, it's so easy to get a diploma without ever bothering to go to class or learn to read or such, that the diploma simply has no value. The high-tech company I work for doesn't even bother asking for them anymore. If I were interviewing Ms. Gottlieb, I would be far more interested in her AP classes than I would be in whether she graduated or not. I can foresee a future where lots of the best and brightest students drop out after their junior year and go straight to college or industry.

Isabel isn't graduating ... (Below threshold)

Isabel isn't graduating - and that's apparently fine with her and her future college. That makes this a non-story to me.

A college exercising good judgment!? I give it six months before somebody tries to shut it down.

meep, cousin dave, and a fe... (Below threshold)

meep, cousin dave, and a few others are more correct in this. High school diplomas are really a rite of passage from parents, not an actual academic achievement anymore. The Bachelor's degree, or maybe the Associate's degree has become the new base diploma for all jobs. Way back when all that was required for ANYTHING was a H.S. diploma (except maybe engineering, but business? just high school). Now, even Bachelor's degrees are a dime a dozen, especially in liberal arts or fields such as business administration.

I say if she can get into a college anyway, what's the freakin' point? I thought MY high school was overrated, even my high school graduation.

What really meant to me was my college graduation..which just took place last saturday...and of which the pictures are finally posted on my website, enjoy (graduated with a B.S. in mechanical engineering)

Actually, I never took Phys... (Below threshold)

Actually, I never took Phys. Ed. (despite playing 4 years of rugby and 1 of football), and so, am not a high school graduate.

The university I went to didn't care. So, I am, officially, a high school drop-out (never having received a high school diploma) despite having a B.Sc. in Chemical Engineering and being employed since my university graduation.

Skewing the mean income of high-school dropouts rightward...


Dear all,I am the ... (Below threshold)

Dear all,

I am the author of the article that the AP picked up and ran in its edited form. You can find it at www.theunionleader.com

As you can imagine, there were a few things that were left out of the more "bare bones" AP version. Steve L mentioned that the parents need to take responsibility. In my article, I noted that Isabel's mom, who is doing her residency at a local hospital also took blame for the oversight. She said she was working 100-hour workweeks, and didn't have the time she should have to keep an eye on this.

Also, the BEST program at Bow requires health and phys ed requirements above what the state requires.


When Isabel was belatedly i... (Below threshold)

When Isabel was belatedly informed of this gym requirement, it was three weeks into school of her senior year. Band and chorus are part of her being, and they not gut courses that they might be at other schools. Her former classmates in Seattle are in New York this weekend at Lincoln Center trying to repeat as the best high school jazz band in the nation. Calculus and biology were not acceptable trade-offs for PE. She already takes seven classes. Most seniors take five or six.
This girl has completed ten seasons of high school sports, with six varsity letters at Bow High School. Two of the seasons were on a boys' lacrosse team (there was no girls team on which she was eligible to play.) It was on a technicality in the Seattle School District that Bow did not honor her "waivers."
She made her decision not to take the PE class, understood and accepted the consequences, and asked for no sympathy. The current publicity began when a classmate wrote a letter to the Bow Times, which followed with an article, and then followed the New Hampshire Union Leader articles, the AP wire, and this.
As a parent, I feel that the school district made a decision that was within their rights, but was nonetheless, unreasonable. Despite all this, I am grateful for the many opportunites she has had and has taken advantage of at Bow High School

OK, So I don't know ... (Below threshold)
BHS Student:

So I don't know if anyone here actually knows the true story. . . I mean the one that wasn't printed in the newspapers. Well I do! I am a fellow senior at BHS with Isabel infact I'm in one of her AP classes. First off I think it's stupid that some people think that they don't have to be held to the same standards as others. I am a varsity athlete as are over 50% of kids in our SMALL New Hampshire school. EVERYONE else has to complete this PE/health requirement to graduate. Why should she be different? Other kids have had waivers denied also. The fact is that our school doesn't accept waivers. Lastly she was enrolled in the very class that she is missing. . . AND SHE DROPPED IT!!! Why you may ask. Because she needed more Free time to do her AP work. Not to mention that she could have dropped Band instead. This isn't a case of unfair standards because everyone else has lived up to them. This is a case of a person disagreeing with somehting and simply chosing not to obey becuase of their disdain.

I just did some fact checki... (Below threshold)
BHS Student:

I just did some fact checking of my own because I know that some of the things I said may not sound believable. but they are true. Acutally over 70% of our student body is involved in varsity athletics. Also people have been arguing that AP classes are more important and the possibility of earning college credit is more important. Well I say that if AP classes and the like are so important then why didn's she take the AP US History exam and and be the ONLY student in that course not to take the exam. ALSO we must remember that she didn't take a full load of classes with the afformentioned AP's. SHE HAS A FREE PERIOD. This period WAS and SHOULD BE filled by that missing BEST requirement, which is much more than just PE. BEST is a Mix of PE and health. It encompasses everything from sex education to first aid/CPR to nutrition and fitness and basic human anatomy. So as you can see it's not JUST a PE class. So please quit with the B/S about public school systems getting in the way of education. In reality this is a case of stubbornness getting in the way of education.

Hey this is Isabel.P... (Below threshold)

Hey this is Isabel.
Perhaps a bit of clarification is needed on some topics.
* I did not take the AP US history test because I do not particularly care for history. I took that class to fulfill another graduation requirement (that I'm not going to get into) in place of AP chemistry, which I wanted to take, but was offered only during the same period.
* Music is probably the most important thing in my life (outside of family and friends) and there is nothing that I would drop it for, including my high school diploma, as you can see.
* I am taking 7 credits this year, which is more than most if not all seniors in the school, as most will take 1.5, 2, or even 3 free periods. When I took up the BEST class, I had 8 classes, sports after school 5 days a week, and other organized activities (music, school stuff etc.) five nights a week. My accademics were beginning to suffer from the homework time I was losing. I believe that my claim of needing the time for work is justified.
* I was upset about all this at first but I've made peace with it. I made the choice to drop the BEST class because when push came to shove it was the least important thing on my plate. Trinity doesn't care and neither do I. I made a decision to give up my diploma, and I do not regret it. I would have prefered that the district had been less rigid but I am not going to let it affect me negatively.
* I am glad to see that I have so much support for the choices I have made. I respect those who disagree with what I have done, but I believe that it I needed to stand up for myself and do what I feel is right for my education. Thanks to those who have assured me that I have made the right choice. This whole thing has been quite an ordeal!
Over and out
P.S. Team Awesome is awesome.

Anyone that claims a high s... (Below threshold)

Anyone that claims a high school diploma is worthless is speaking with too little real life experience, or they have encountered nothing but unusual good fortune in their working life, I suspect. It may be that a college diploma nullifies the need for a H.S. diploma, but for hundreds of thousands of job-seekers that do not complete college or tech school, or have a job working for their old man, don't leave home without it. Let's face it, you might be able to back up your declarations with a little anecdotal evidence (I have three friends that all have good jobs w/o H.S. diplomas!), but these are the exceptions. Data proves you wrong. The average person without a H.S. diploma will have a harder time finding a good paying job, and will make less on the average than those with it. I was a member of management staff working in an industrial plant for a large corporation. Without a H.S. diploma, they wouldn't even invite you for an interview. And this was in manufacturing of lumber and wood products, not high tech guidance and control systems for ICBM's. If you have a steady job w/o a H.S. diploma, in most work environments you stand a good chance of being stranded someday in a lower level job when you would like to move on or move up. You'll find a hard time getting customer service manager at Wal-Mart and into a decent paying management job without some college, no matter how long you work there. The educated person will always have the upper hand. Don't kid yourself, and please don't kid others into dropping out or flunking out. Let me qualify my statements with a possible legitimate reason for going on without a H.S. diploma. If you're smart enough and have the transcripts to back it up, to get a college to accept you with a G.E.D. you can quit H.S., and start college early. My nephew went to college, finishing up at Cornell University with a veterinarian degree. He was too intelligent to be challenged by anything his High School had to offer, so he just took off and went to college. If someone can take this path, more power to them. For the rest of us, the diploma is a very good idea, and more and more employers are making it an absolute requirement.






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