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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update

TEXAS: Texas Drops Health Education Requirement


Associated Press (07.07.09) - Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Texas will no longer require high school students to take a health class before graduating, causing worry that some may miss lessons on sex education, alcohol awareness, and basic nutrition. The decision makes Texas one of the few states lacking the requirement, officials said.

Education Commissioner Robert Scott recently announced the change in a letter to school districts, a move he made in order to comply with a new law that increases the number of elective courses required to graduate from three-and-a-half to six. Officials wanted to give students greater freedom in choosing electives.

The requirement of two semesters of fine arts was maintained, while one semester of physical education and two of a technology class were cut from the recommended high school program in addition to the health class.

"It's a major statement about where we're going," said Diana Everett, executive director of the Texas Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance.

"It runs the gamut, from tobacco use, substance use and abuse, nutrition and physical activity levels, unplanned pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, injuries," said Susan Woolley, executive director of the American School Health Association. "It covers a wide area and it also covers being informed health consumers - all of these things should be covered in a good curriculum somewhere between first grade and high school." Independently, school districts may still require health education. Additionally, the decision was announced too late for many districts to decide whether to cut the courses until spring, said Everett. However, without a mandate, "there are going to be a lot of people saying 'Well, I don't have the time; I'm not comfortable with this; I don't have to hire these teachers; or I can get rid of that out of the day,'" Woolley said.


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