Increased PE class sizes push limits, teachers say

Class sizes up to 57 students in physical education classes have teachers concerned about student safety and learning. Currently, the average PE class size at CVHS is 43 students.

While the contract for most classes states that the class limit is 35 students, this contract does not apply to physical education classes which tend to be larger. For example, teacher Shari Rodriguez’s zero period class has had as many as 59 students.
John Green, a teacher and president of the Castro Valley Teachers Association,  said that despite the district’s poor financial shape, it would not be impossible to employ more PE teachers. He believes that this would help solve many of the problems PE teachers are facing as a result of the class increase.

Assistant Superintendent Sherri Beetz believes that the PE class sizes are reasonable and within contract guidelines.

“You can look at this from two different angles,” explained Beetz.  “One would be to reallocate the existing staff as long as there are appropriately credentialed teachers to fill in the new sections. Additional staff could be added but it would be an additional expense. Personally, I feel the class sizes in PE are reasonable and in compliance with the CVTA contract. It would be nice to hire more staff and lower class sizes in PE as well as every other subject area.”

PE teacher John Edwards described the many downfalls of a large class.  First, there is a lack of supervision, as it is difficult for the teacher to watch and assess fifty students at a time.  There is also limited field space and equipment, and the class increase has already affected the amount of sports that can be played throughout the year.

PE teachers fear that parents as well as others will blame the administration for lack of supervision or injuries.
“We’re just concerned for the liability of the teachers,” said Green.  “We don’t want anyone to get sued.”
Edwards believes that there are solutions to this predicament.  He thinks that having one more female PE teacher would solve most or all of the problems caused by the large class sizes, such as locker room supervision.
“Our department consists of very knowledgeable and capable individuals who are passionate about what we do.  Smaller class sizes would not only provide us a safer environment to share our passion, it would allow us to get to know our students on a personal level, the way other departments do,” Edwards explained.

One thought on “Increased PE class sizes push limits, teachers say

  • May 6, 2014 at 10:10 pm
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    I have been a Physical Educator for over 25 years and unfortunately this is a battle that will not be won. Many of us physical educators have our masters degrees, are intelligent people and professionals like any other teacher. However, we have been discriminated against, based on the subject area that we teach. As with most districts our contract does not protect physical educators regarding class size as it does protect other teachers. If I were an academic teacher in the classroom my contract would protect my class size keeping the numbers low so learning can take place. But, as a physical educator they can place as many students in my class as needed to support other programs and departments making learning a watered down diluted experience for the physical educated student. Our district offers compensation to classroom teachers who go over a specific number or students, but offers no compensation to the physical educator who may go over that number by 60. With the push always focusing on academic scores we fail to recognize the physically educated child. Everyone is so concerned about test scores. Who cares about the physical education student? It has been my experience that other programs take priority and the physical education child is pushed aside once again. Lets add more students in the physical education class because there is no cap on their class size, and they can handle it right? So as some classes approach 90 students to one teacher where is the justice? I believe if administrators and other teachers could experienced the reality of managing 60-90 students outside ( with the liability of sport equipment, resource students, special education students, behavioral students, often with no aids assisting) that maybe change would come about to reduce the class size for the physical educator, and reduce the liability and increase student safety. How can the large class size continue to be overlooked? It always surprises me that districts are willing to take risks regarding the health of students when it comes to adding more students to an already impacted period. You would think with childhood obesity and diseases on the rise and the acknowledgement of the Surgeon General stating that this generation of students may not outlive their parents, that districts would wake up and protect the physically educated student. It seems like it would be common sense to figure out that 65 plus students in a physical education class who are moving vigorously, should be more of a concern with only one set of eyes on them then a few students over 32 sitting in an academic class. We are all educated here. With smaller classes come better fitness results. With better fitness results comes healthier children with healthier children comes better cognitive ability. With better cognitive ability comes better test scores. With healthier children comes reduction in childhood obesity and diseases. With less diseases come longer, happier living. Well, as I mentioned before this is a battle, that can not be won. Though many of us have done multiple presentations to state our cause for smaller class sizes, have addressed many board members at meetings, and have been very resourceful keeping kids moving with a purpose we have yet to see any change. Thus the message that is sent to our students is that ” NO ONE REALLY CARES ABOUT THE PHYSICALLY EDUCATED STUDENT!” So what do we do? Well, we do what we always have done. We will make the best of it. We will continue to work with the large numbers they give us, reaching out to the few who we can have an impact on, while the others are lost and unfortunately head down the path of unhealthy destruction, adding the ever growing statistics of our unhealthful youth in this nation.

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