I read with great interest the article regarding the Roland Park Middle School parents' concerns in the article, "All work and no play for kids" (Sept. 24). It is so reassuring to hear about parents who are engaged in their children's schools and especially when they are taking an interest in their physical activity level.

Often times, school leaders may think that academics and physical activity are mutually exclusive. The research on this issue is very clear and has shown time and time again that those students who have an opportunity to be active during the school day have better attendance, academic achievement, relationships and overall health.

While physical education is where students should learn technical skills, tactics, sportsmanship, fitness principles and teamwork, structured activity in the core disciplines can enhance the learning process, be safe, and can be consistent with what is already being taught in the classroom. After school activities and recess time can also provide students an outlet to have fun, relieve stress and run off extra energy. All of this will promote an enhanced learning environment and better climate in the school.

At the Maryland State Department of Education, we are happy to be working with underachieving schools in Baltimore City as a part of the Race to the Top Grant to incorporate student services like enhanced physical activity in the school day. We appreciate the opportunity to assist these schools in this area among others as they see appropriate. We know the students will also appreciate this collaboration as well as they too know that learning does not always happen sitting down.

A.J. "Tito" Baca Jr., Baltimore

The writer is the

Maryland State Department of Education's Race to the Top Grant program specialist for physical activity.