Created: 03/13/2014 10:46 PM
By: Erica Zucco, KOB Eyewitness News 4
A new state law in New Mexico lets school districts determine what satisfies a student’s physical education requirement for graduation. It was passed by the House and Senate, but students played a role in getting the ball rolling.
A student at Cleveland High School in Rio Rancho started a petition and gathered more than 1000 signatures. He was elated when he saw lawmakers take up the issue.
“I'm sure this will cause more students speaking out for what they believe in,” CHS freshman and marching band member Wil Macneil said.
For years, New Mexico students took marching band or Junior ROTC and got credit for physical education. But in December 2013, the Public Education Department issued a memo saying marching band doesn’t fit the bill. It upset students like Wil Macneil, who also wanted marching band to count for PE so he could stack his schedule with another academic course.
“I know a lot of students were outraged and they took it out on Facebook, but sometimes you just have to work harder and go that extra mile,” Macneil said.
Macneil wrote to every lawmaker he could, as well as the Public Education Department. He also started an online petition that got 1500 signatures. A month later, he saw Senate Bill 122 hit the floor sponsored by two state lawmakers from Rio Rancho, his hometown. It allowed districts to decide whether marching band counted.
Macneil says he thinks lawmakers listened to what families wanted, and he feels empowered to have helped make a difference.
“I think it's really great that we can have students have a voice here now,” Macneil said.