Credit for Cheer

The San Diego Unified School District board voted four to zero on August 3 to form a committee that will consider allowing cheerleading to satisfy the physical education requirements for graduation.

The all-female Patrick Henry cheerleading squad attended the meeting decked out in their uniforms, occupying the first couple of rows in the auditorium. The cheerleaders brought parents to help plead their case.

One mother testified that cheerleading meets the district and state standards for physical education. She said cheerleading is as physical as any male contact sport, and the fact that the squad trains year round and is involved in school events should meet any requirement for school credit.

Opposition came from concerned citizen Sally Smith, who spoke of the dangers involved in cheerleading and likened it to the physical risk involved in playing football. She also asserted that cheerleading is exclusionary and that to allow cheerleading for course credit would open the floodgates for all school activities to be eligible for credit.

Members of the San Diego Unified school board carried out much of the same debate before agreeing to conduct a study of all extracurricular school activities. Board member John de Beck offered that a comprehensive study should include a safety-credentials system with CPR training.

The board decided that teachers, students, parents, and administrators should be on the committee to decide if cheerleading deserves school credit.

Comments

The caveat here, in the wake of some school districts deciding to interpret the State Constitution as did the Rose Bird California Supreme Court in the early '80's, is that the school district will likely now have to provide all materials - including uniforms - to cheerleaders. Also, the question of how the cheerleading squad can still exclude anyone wishing to participate, regardless of ability or appearance, is bound to be raised. Careful with that decision, SDUSD!

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