Here's one long overdue... Gwendolyn Williams made news in May of 2014 when her NYC school "Fitnessgram" came back with the news that she was overweight. So much for all that running around outside and playing ball with her friends. In this crazy culture in which only failed metrics can be used to measure teachers and students, it seems public pressure finally forced a scientifically engineered metric to admit its failure.
The City now has a new system under which Gwendolyn would no longer count as unhealthy. Gone are the previous categories of "underweight," "health weight," "overweight" and "obese." They have now been replaced by "very low," "healthy fitness zone" and "needs improvement."
The City, moreover, has now decided to do a better job of sealing the Fitnessgrams mailed home. Gone is the flimsy sticker, easily removable by anyone even remotely interested in ruining his or her self-esteem forever. Now, the envelopes are more seriously taped, offering an impediment, albeit a minor one. You might actually need to burn a few more calories to rip it open.
As Gwendolyn's mother, Laura Williams, stated last year, "it was just being labeled overweight that could have been devastating to children." How many children cried? How many children were put on a course to eating disorders? How many will need therapy down the road? Who is the genius who invented the Fitnessgram and how much does he or she weigh? How much of that is muscle (shall we count the brain?) and how much of that is flab?
And all this happens at a time when physical education in schools suffers at the hands of tight budgets redirected towards testing. Precious dollars are wasted on a Common-Core curriculum lined up to be the "Fitnessgram" of the brain. Sixty-five percent of children were failures in 2014, thanks to cut scores, down from seventy percent the year before. We are supposedly raising the stupid generation. Could the metrics possibly be flawed? No, it must be insipid, lazy teachers and parents, probably fat themselves, over-coddling their overfed kids! How many more flawed metrics do we need before we understand the damage done to a generation?
So, how did Gwendolyn Williams do on her Common Core tests? I don't know. But I can tell you how she did on the 2015 "Fitnessgram." She's among the healthiest of them all. She and her parents opted out.