Seizing my attention recently was this New York Times article which told of the Aiken Elementary School in West Hartford, Connecticut and one of the questions on its application for kindergarten:
In the article, Cara Paiuk tells of her outrage that this question is asked. How intrusive! How personal! She followed up with school officials as to why the question was asked. They replied that they're looking for any signs of birth trauma so that if an administrator perceives any problems with the child (learning, behavioral), the nurse could pull up the kid's chart to look for clues to the problem. School officials were also surprised because apparently, Paiuk is the first person ever to challenge this question.
As the mother of a biological child and one who was adopted, all I can say is, “Wow!” The NERVE of those administrators!
Sure, a physician is entitled to ask that question or, perhaps, a counselor, but THE PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM?! There are many factors that can contribute to behavioral problems and birth is only one. It is not for the schools to ask that, but medical and psychological professionals.
THAT conditioned to filling out forms that
we provide ALL the information asked, no matter how intrusive
Do we mindlessly fill out forms without thought as to why those questions are being asked, what will be done with the information provided, who will SEE that data (insurance companies, employers), and what the long-term ramifications of providing that information might be?!
I don't know what kind of birth my daughter had; there's no way to find out and, honestly, I don't care. Any mild issues that have occurred with her were a result of fatigue or just her normal stage of development that we had trouble dealing with. No one ever asked or even questioned whether it was because she was adopted. We've dealt with who she is, not where she came from.
It is not up to school administrators to diagnose on their own. Any behavioral problems, I feel, require a team effort with parents, guidance counselors, teachers, and medical/psychological professionals all weighing in.
As for those school officials and anyone who doesn't see what the big deal is about the question, my gut feel is that no administration likes to have its feathers ruffled. It's easier to say, “it's always be there” or “we've always done that” than to change the system when someone points out a flaw.
Hopefully, the publicity this issue has raised will prompt other schools (private, public, pre-school, etc.) to periodically LOOK at their forms to see if they make sense.
And let's remember that it's up to US to look at what we're filling out, what we're signing, what kind of information we're giving away and, sometimes, leave the line blank.