While almost everyone recognizes the need to encourage young people to live a healthy lifestyle, public schools have taken that initiative to absurd levels — especially under new nutrition standards and other mandates handed down by Michelle Obama.
One way schools are ostensibly helping parents is by sending home reports on students’ weight. Using body mass index, a calculation widely dismissed as unreliable, administrators basically label kids as either skinny, normal, or fat. Educators, it seems, are now engaging in the same type of name-calling they rail against, but with less accuracy.
By relying on BMI, some students who are perfectly healthy by all other measurements receive a warning from their respective school that could send them down an unhealthy path. Such was the case with an 11-year-old student athlete in Florida.
When Kristen Grasso received a report placing her daughter in the “at-risk” category for her weight, she could not understand.
“Lily is tall, athletic, solid muscle,” Grasso explained, adding that “by no means is she overweight.”
Labeling children based entirely on a flawed system of measurement helps no one and, as Grasso noted, can contribute to self-esteem problems among students of all sizes. She expressed disappointment in the system, noting she was under the impression health assessments included only tests for vision, hearing, and other basic functions.
While parents in Florida can choose to keep their children out of the BMI test lineup, Grasso said the pathway to do so is arduous and confusing.
For such a controversial reading, parents should be required to opt their students into the program instead of the other way around. Instead of looking for common sense ways to encourage healthy decisions by collaborating with parents, the government-controlled public school system once again chooses to handle student health in its own signature style.
Educators routinely alienate parents by keeping them out of the process. Stories of wholly inappropriate lessons and activities are often only brought to light when a student decides to talk about them at home.
Now these same schools are subjecting students to demeaning and misleading weight assessments, only notifying parents after the damage is done.
–Western Journalism staff writer