- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 28, 2002

The Pennsylvania license plate that says "You Have a Friend in Pennsylvania" isn't completely true, especially if you are a fat student in a Philadelphia school. The school system there has taken it upon itself to advise parents of obese students that their kid doesn't fit the mold. I guess they want to graduate thin children who can barely read, write and make change for a $10 bill. We have allowed our schools to become full-time day-care centers. In many instances, we feed students a government-approved breakfast and lunch, which probably lead to a craving for something with a little more taste.

If your school taxes are going up, it may not have anything to do with education. The letter to parents of the obese is sent to encourage them to change their children's eating habits and help them to become more active. The school must feel that many parents don't realize they have an overweight child bingeing on burgers and fries. The letter doesn't blame the parents; it simply encourages them to correct the perceived problem. I have to wonder how many of these fat kids have fat teachers.

"Johnny, we received a letter from the school that says you are too fat."

"Gee, Mom, we have a lot of fat teachers and administrators and really fat cafeteria workers. Why are they picking on me?"

"I think it's probably an effort to take our minds off their dismal record in preparing you for higher education. Finish your pie and don't worry about it."

At least let us hope that is how a parent would respond to this invasion of family privacy. The government has turned the teacher into a substitute parent.

In Florida, it's even worse. One school district near Tampa sends parents the results of a body mass test indicating whether the child is normal, overweight, or at risk of becoming overweight or underweight. I don't believe there is a "your child is just right" category. Can you imagine having the school system declare your child is at risk of becoming overweight? Is this why we send our kids to school? How do the children feel about being categorized by weight? Do they send letters to the parents of football linemen?

What is really humorous is that only 13 percent of children are overweight while 60 percent of adults fall into the too fat category. We have these obese role models criticizing the children for eating too much. If the school system is going to stick its nose into family business, why not require all students to take a mandatory nutrition class, taught by a teacher who is in superb physical condition, and just eliminate Mom and Dad from the problem entirely?

What is next, the bad-breath test? Will Dick and Jane have to have their teeth inspected each morning in order to escape the consequences of the dreaded dental letter arriving at home? What about the dandruff problem and the deodorant problem? Then, of course, there is the ever-present acne problem. There are so many ways to offend the teaching establishment that it is no wonder they don't have time to teach. Why not just sign your kid over to the state? It has been done before.

Dick Boland is a nationally syndicated columnist.

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