The next group of Amarillo College freshmen will be at a slight disadvantage to those of us already here. Beginning this fall, students entering AC will follow a new core curriculum – one that doesn’t include any required physical activity or wellness education.
That’s because the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, which decides what classes will be required for all undergraduate students in the state, has decided to change our core curriculum.
AC administrators submitted a plan that included one semester hour of fitness and wellness education, but even that was too much for the Coordinating Board. It rejected wellness education in favor of requiring an extra hour of First Year Seminar.
According to the course description, AC’s Lifetime Fitness class “promotes behavior that encourages students to make responsible choices for lifelong health and wellness through instruction and participation in moderate fitness activities.”
The co-board decided that not even one hour of lifelong health and wellness was important enough to be considered essential.
It’s an odd decision considering the country’s rising rates of obesity and diabetes and especially considering that in 2013, Texas was ranked the 11th fattest state by a Gallup-Healthways poll. A similar study by the Centers for Disease Control placed us at No. 15.
We have been assured that, although no longer required, fitness and wellness classes will continue to be offered at AC for any student who wishes to take them voluntarily.
That’s nice, but it brings us to another problem.
Rejecting these classes as part of our core curriculum means financial aid cannot be applied to them.
Not only is it no longer required as part of a well-rounded education, the board’s decision actually makes it more difficult for students to make lifetime wellness a part of their education.
Add this to the recent trend of offering less physical activity in elementary, middle and high school, and students will be missing out completely on this part of a well-rounded education.
Perhaps we are meant to place this responsibility on our parents.
That’s fine for some older students whose parents actually had recess and health class back when they were in school.
The students entering AC next fall may never have been formally educated about physical health, so it isn’t likely they can teach their children anything about it.
There’s no help for a generation that can turn on the television set and are told that Olympic athletes achieve their success by eating large amounts of McDonald’s.
Statewide, the decision has been made that our wellness education is not essential and should be more expensive.
At the same time, our very own school chooses a microwave and some vending machines as the best way to provide nutrition to its students.
We may be doomed.