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Arizona school district sends letters home about overweight kids

Laura Donovan Contributor

Chubby elementary school children in Flagstaff, Ariz., have more than just bullies to worry about. If they’re too fat, their school will notify their parents.

Starting in the fall, students in the Flagstaff district will be weighed and measured at school. Students who are found to be overweight, marginally overweight, or underweight will have a letter sent home to their parents, which will include graphs showing a range of appropriate weights for a given age and height.

Barry Hess, the vice chairman for the Arizona Libertarian Party and former Libertarian Party Arizona gubernatorial candidate, describes the Flagstaff school district’s decision to send notes home as “absurd.”

“I’m surprised that parents aren’t coming out against this with pitchforks and saying, ‘shut up, stop ruining our kids,'” Hess told The Daily Caller.

Hess could not believe that parents of children in the Flagstaff school district would accept this new policy.

“This is an attempt [by the school district] to take over everything except responsibility for the child,” Hess told TheDC. “This is not providing an education, and the district is completely overstepping its boundaries here. It’s none of the school’s business to try to tell parents what they have to do. They don’t even care about kids being overweight. The school district just cares about breaking down the resistance of parents to an unsubstantiated authority.”

A Flagstaff Unified School District human resources representative, who did not provide a name, said, “this is not really anything new, it’s not a policy, I’m not even sure it can be called a policy. Every child that shows something significant in testing will have a letter sent home.”

An Arizona Daily Star editorial on Nov. 16 suggested that this was, in fact, a new policy. “Beginning this fall the [Flagstaff] district will measure and weigh elementary-school children and send letters to parents whose children are overweight or heading that way,” the paper’s editorial read.

K. Alison Clarke-Stewart, a psychology and social behavior professor at the University of California, Irvine, expressed concern that letters of this nature could potentially harm the self esteem of children.

“The message to parents about their children’s weight should be accompanied by a cautionary note that they should NOT make their children feel worse about themselves. They should not start lecturing the child about being fat,” Clarke-Stewart wrote in an e-mail to TheDC.

If parents do receive a letter regarding their child’s weight, Clarke-Stewart recommended the obvious: the child’s parents would be wise to promote a healthy diet.