During Tuesday’s school board meeting, Superintendent Dr. Emily Lembeck and her staff alerted the board that following the Christmas break, Marietta students, along with all other students in Georgia, will be required to receive an annual fitness test as part of the Georgia Student Health and Physical Education program approved by the Georgia legislature in 2009.
The test will be carried out in their physical education class.
“I have a hard time with the state setting a mandate to test every child’s BMI,” Weiner said. “It’s the parents’ responsibility to mandate the child’s fitness level and nutrition, not the state. I don’t find the need for the state to collect that information.”
Under the mandate, a child will be classified in one of two categories: as being in the “healthy fitness zone” or as “needs improvement.”
First through 12th-graders will have their height and weight recorded, while fourth through 12th-graders will also be measured on activities such as curl-ups, push-ups and aerobics. The school district will send home reports detailing how the fourth- through twelfth-grade students fared in May.
“This is new territory for all of us, and I think there will be a number of questions asked, but we want to share this with the board and community,” Lembeck said.
Weiner asked if there was a way for a student to opt out of the program. There is not, unless the student is on a special-needs plan, said Dr. Margaret Sims, the district’s curriculum and instruction director.
“It has to be done confidentially, and I also think that ultimately some parents will have some concern, but it is the law in Georgia and we need to do this,” Lembeck said.
It’s a law Weiner is displeased with.
“It seems like it’s a way to rub parents’ noses in the fact that their child is overweight, out of shape and what have you,” he said. “If they’re good parents, they already know it, so it doesn’t seem very useful. It’s a way for the state to collect data, that’s why this is mandated.”
And for parents who don’t pay attention to their child’s health, Weiner said this won’t change anything.
“A piece of paper pointing out whether or not your child is fit as defined by the state will not open the eyes of parents who don’t value good nutrition and exercise,” he said.