“ONE HAT TOO MANY”
By J. Anthony Wilkins, Retired PAGE* Member
(*Professional Association of Georgia Educators)
The bill mandating that schools in Georgia measure the BMI of each student next year passed the Georgia Senate this week. Now, it goes for consideration by the House of Representatives. Every citizen needs to read this piece of legislation carefully. This action makes one wonder what next will come about in our fair state potentially impacting the effectiveness of our schools.
I guess schools next will be mandated to perform the actual dental work, chiropractic treatment, immunizations, and only the Good Lord knows what else, right there at the school house. They have already been assigned head lice, drugs, gangs, teen pregnancy, multi-lingual education, and several other social problems to solve. Are there any issues left for the home to resolve? And, “they” wonder why test scores are sometimes lower than desired and expected! Maybe, the focus is spread too thin!
Why are school personnel frustrated to the highest level possible these days? Why is the rate of first year teachers remaining in the profession for more than three years so low? Why are so many teachers leaving the profession after they get those 30 years in? Schools can’t do everything for everybody! We’ve taken “in loco parentis” to the point of being totally ridiculous! It was never meant for school personnel to completely replace parents, as some appear to suggest nowadays.
I do agree that obesity has become a huge (no pun intended) problem for us, but who should be the ones to deal with it each day for the betterment of the children they brought into the world? What has happened to personal responsibility for one’s actions? Perhaps, schools should take children at birth and keep them under tight supervision and jurisdiction until they reach the age of 21. That totally absurd proposal might be the only way to offset one of the biggest problems schools have in many cases—trying to undo in six hours what has been done the other eighteen.
The school has become a “Mr. Fix It” for all social shortcomings! For all practical purposes, academics have long ago been put on the back burner. Schools have been used by the government as a social change agent and for social remediation for so long that one has to struggle to recall when the focus was where it should be—on academics for those students who are willing to get the job done, to demonstrate a good work ethic, not be a behavioral problem, and to appreciate supportive and involved parents! That’s the formula which produces responsible, productive, and competent citizens! And, isn’t that the primary purpose of public education?
One day when the role of public education has been completely undermined by the lack of funding, unrealistic and misguided expectations, and outright destructive legislation, we may look back and wonder why we threw the baby out with the bath water. And, without the availability of the public schools to be the “whipping boy” any longer, whatever will be used as the new political football by ambitious politicians in the future?
My reaction is that if you’re going to mandate weighing children, why not the adults, too? I think the average weight of the faculty might be just as important. In fact, given the cost of insurance, it is more relevant to the cost of education overall. Now that I think about it, the average BMI should be taken twice a year at every government facility and institution. Once the average BMI gets into the obese range, there should be some sort of consequences. In the case of congress, they should be prohibited from passing new legislation as well as from collecting paychecks until they slim down.
As if Georgia schools weren’t ridiculous enough.