Stop weigh-ins and taking away recess at Charlottesville city public schools!

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Stop weigh-ins and taking away recess at Charlottesville city public schools!

This petition had 222 supporters
Christa Bennett started this petition to Charlottesville City School Board

Did you know that if your child is a student at Charlottesville city public schools, they are weighed every year during gym class? Did you know that recess is sometimes taken away from children for misbehaving in class – or even just forgetting their homework?

Weighing children one day and taking away their recess the next is not an approach that makes sense.

Why are our children being weighed? At Jackson-Via, parents are not notified that this will be happening nor are they provided with the results afterwards. Additionally, weight has some correlation to health, but more and more research is coming out that indicates healthy individuals can have significantly different weights. Additionally, a 2011 study found that by age six, children – especially girls – start to express concern about their weight or body shape (Smolak 2011). Weighing children at this age, in front of their peers, should be done with serious sensitivity to body issues that children may already be developing. Without a compelling reason, it shouldn't be done. And never should it happen without parental notification and follow-up.

Similarly, Recess Academy is not an evidence-based practice. A 2013 report by the Institute of Medicine of the US National Academy of Sciences stated: "Children who are more active show greater attention, have faster cognitive processing speed, and perform better on standardized academic tests than children who are less active.” It also said, "Consistent engagement in recess can help students refine social skills."

Susan Cluett, the Program Director for the UVA Children's Fitness Clinic right here in Charlottesville said last year, "Recess should be part of a normal school day, and it should never be withheld. The kids who disrupt class are the kids who need exercise the most."

I don't blame most teachers for using Recess Academy. It is incredibly difficult to manage the behavior of an entire class when there are so many factors playing into how students behave. Do our teachers need training in alternative methods? Are our schools understaffed? I want our teachers to have the resources they need. I want to help them get that.

Please join me in asking the Charlottesville City School Board to review the policies of weighing students and of Recess Academy and provide us with further information about them:

1) What federal, state, or local statutes mandate these policies?
2) Are the policies regularly reviewed, with consideration for updating them to reflect evolving research regarding physical and academic fitness?
3) If Recess Academy is not a legally mandated policy but rather a practice, why is it being practiced and where did it originate?

Additionally, if these policies can be changed at our city level, we then ask for the school board's help in changing them.

Read the full text of my presentation to the school board:

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