Should Schools Stay in Their Lane?

Should schools mind their own business? To what areas of life should that business be limited? There has never been universal agreement on where the norm ought to be. In 1993, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggested seven appropriate goals for policy and practice in the area of school health:

1. Ensure access to primary health care.
2. Provide a system for dealing with crisis medical situations.
3. Provide mandated screening and immunization monitoring.
4. Provide systems for identification and solution of students’ health and educational problems.
5. Provide comprehensive and appropriate health education.
6. Provide a healthful and safe school environment that facilitates learning.
7. Provide a system of evaluation of the effectiveness of the school health program.

Over the years, the federal government stepped up with some major moves. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965 had laid out the basic tenets of governmental involvement in education. It was organized in such a way that states could opt into financial benefits by fulfilling the “requirements outlined in certain sections, or titles, of the act.” Later, as a Harvard University publication explained:

The 2001 No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) marked a new level of federal oversight by requiring states to set more rigorous student evaluation standards and, through testing, demonstrate “adequate yearly progress” in how those standards were met. Flaws in the law quickly surfaced.

Then in 2004 came the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA 2004, whose Child Find Mandate applies to all children residing in a state, and says that “schools are required to identify and evaluate all children who may have disabilities,” from birth to age 21. It also specifies that “The law does not require children to be ‘labeled’ or classified by their disability.”

On the other hand, a certain amount of record-keeping and statistical calculation has to be done in any project of this kind. The citizens who pay for the program need to be shown that it yields good results, and charts are how we do this. In the course of doing legitimate accountability chores, bad judgment and error can creep in. Despite good intentions, undesirable classification and labeling of children seem to occur anyway. This is one of the issues that many parents and professionals are concerned about.

(To be continued…)

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Schools & Health: Our Nation’s Investment,”, 1997
Source: “When it Comes to Education, the Federal Government is in Charge of… Um, What?.”, Fall 2017
Source: “Do Schools Have Any Legal Obligation to Identify and Test Students?,”, 06/03/2008
Image by Rick Obst/CC BY 2.0

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OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

Food & Health Resources