ABC'S and BMI's... Is There Room for Both on Your Child's Report Card? - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

1/19/05

ABC'S and BMI's... Is There Room for Both on Your Child's Report Card?

One Texas lawmaker wants to add body fat measurements to your child's report card. Senator Leticia Van de Putte's bill would require school districts to include a student's body mass index on his or her report card.

Along with the measurements, schools would provide health information to students deemed overweight. The San Antonio democrat says officials should be just as concerned with student's physical health as they are with academic performance. State figures show more than one third of school-age kids in Texas are overweight.

Here in Lubbock, some local leaders expressed opposition to the proposed legislation. NewsChannel 11 spoke to state representative Delwin Jones and Lubbock Independent School District Superintendent Wayne Havens.

The body mass index, or BMI is a mathematical calcuation based on a person's height and weight. Representative Jones went as far as to say legislation calling for its use in our schools is "foolish" and Havens has reservations on more than one level. Both men feel it is not the right approach.

Havens says, "Is obesity a concern? It has to be because the health of students will directly impact learning, but I have a real reservation about putting it on report cards." Jones says, "I don't see it having a chance in the world to pass. I'll be one to vote against it."

Representative Jones thinks the responsiblity of monitoring a child's weight belongs largely to parents, not school districts. He thinks mandating schools to compute a student's body mass index would be an unecessary burden.  He says, "I don't think we should mandate anymore things for public schools to do. I want them to focus on education." 

That's a sentiment shared by Havens.  He says, "If you're going to take that measure, on every student, every grade, every year, that's a tremendous effort in manpower. I don't think the money is going to come with hiring people to do this."

Funding concerns aside, both Havens and Jones are thinking of the student's best interests. They fear repercussions for kids if normally private medical information is placed on report cards.  Havens says, "I think it'd be a tremendous problem. I think this would open up other avenues to students who might not be as considerate to really cause hardship on other students."

This is a not a new idea, one of our neighboring states already reports BMI to parents. Arkansas sends out the information on a separate report card, not with the academic report card. 

NewsChannel 11 didn't have to look far to find opinions from parents. We got mixed reaction from a few members of the NewsChannel 11 family. Parent Kristen Ross says, "It would be good for me to know. I'm the only one who sees her report card except for the teacher." Parent and grandparent Janie Martinez says, "High school kids can be pretty mean and I don't think it needs to get in their hands."  Parent Tony Smitherman says, "I think parents probably know if their children are overweight and don't need a note telling them that."

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