Earlier this month, I wrote on the invasive health assessment form used for 5 year old kindergarten students. Last week the New Hanover School Board got a presentation from the County Manager’s Office, showing HOW this information can be used. Remember, these forms are NOT “voluntary,” but required for enrollment. Seems the county complied the “data” and now wants schools to spend time working on obesity issues.

In fact, their “data collection” includes: (see slide #3)

  • ? Demographic information
  • ? Parental attitudinal / perceptual information
  • ? Insurance status, where child obtains regular health care
  • ? Developmental screening information
  • ? Height, weight, BMI, weight status, BP and BP status
  • ? Calculated BMI and BMI status

THINK DATA COLLECTION IS CONFIDENTIAL – THINK AGAIN! Seems the County’s office took all the Kindergarten Health Assessment forms and can even tell where the “fat” kids go to school. There are maps! The county also proposed a PLAN for the system to continue monitoring the BMI (Body Mass Index) of students, and mandate staff time to “community working groups.”

First, let’s put this into perspective. I thought the MISSION and ROLE of the school was to provide academic, liberal arts instruction, even health instruction. Again, principals and teachers are bombarded with more and more initiatives taking the focus off the mission and role! Another sidetrack issue.

The County’s presentation made a case for how a child’s health influences learning, and it does. Also, how adult health contributes to medical costs, and it does. However, again perspective is imperative. Children are in someone’s care 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. That makes 8,766 hours a year. Schools have students in their “care” only 185 days a year, and let’s say an average of 6 hours a day. That makes 1,110 hours a year. Let’s face it folks, schools are NOT the first line of defense for childhood obesity! In fact, more importantly, the child lives 43,830 hours BEFORE reaching the kindergarten classroom. Eating habits and beliefs are well established by adults, not children.

If the county wants to work with the community, FINE, but the county should NOT, in any way, mandate MORE initiatives for our public schools. County agencies should not “USE”  schools to gather data on parents or children.  The “Next Step” slide (#13) is a great example of piling more and more “good ideas” on our schools, and teachers. Schools have enough trouble keeping the main focus, the main focus.  I understand why teachers leave government schools and go to schools where they can teach.