Restore Common Sense in Schools

Eight Wheeling Park High School seniors have learned a valuable, if somewhat painful, lesson about local control of public schools. It is that even when state officials say they will permit it, they can always find a bureaucratic reason to deny it.

Ohio County Board of Education members learned all about it last week from Walt Saunders, who is the school system’s assessment and federal programs director.

Mountain State public school students are required to take earn two physical education credits to graduate from high school. But state officials said they were willing to give local school administrators more control over that.

So, Ohio County school officials decided that participation in two years of sports or band could be substituted for one of the PE credits. That seems intelligent and fair. We suspect athletes and band members get as much or more physical activity as students in PE classes.

But in August, school officials were told that won’t be permitted. For the two years of band or sports to count, participants would have to receive a grade, someone in the state Department of Education decided. That can be done in band, which is a course. It is not done in athletics.

So eight affected WPHS students will have to find some way to make up that second PE credit if they are to graduate next spring. Various options (including, strange as it may seem, an online PE course) are available.

This is, in three words, bureaucracy run amok. It flies in the face of simple common sense.

Ohio County officials had a reasonable plan. But because someone in Charleston could not find a way to make it work, it has been scrapped.

How many other intelligent, fair initiatives in public schools throughout West Virginia have been killed for similarly ridiculous reasons?

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