Things HSLDA Opposes: Required Medical Exams for Public School Students

Things HSLDA Opposes: Required Medical Exams for Public School Students January 14, 2015

Click here to read the full series.

While researching for this series, I came upon this from Illinois in 2009:

Summary:

Amends the School Code. With respect to the requirement that children enrolling in kindergarten have an eye examination, requires the use of dilating drops for the internal and external examination.

HSLDA’s Position:

Oppose.

No explanation, nothing.

HSLDA has absolutely no reason to weigh in on this at all. It does not affect homeschoolers in any way. That they did, however, suggests that their opposition to homeschooled students being required to have doctor visits may extend to public schooled students as well.

I did some digging and found that in 2013, HSLDA opposed an Oregon law that would have required all parents, public, private, or homeschool, to have their children have an eye exam by age 7. HSLDA stated the following:

We believe that Senate Bill 274 unreasonably burdens all parents by forcing them to get an eye exam for their children even if there is no indication that they have vision problems.

I don’t know much about the research on required eye exams for children, or anything about the recommended age. I will also note that I’m nervous about requiring medical examinations outside of school in a country that lacks universal healthcare. I’d like to see the government pick up the tab for screenings like this (or we could simply move to a universal healthcare system and avoid this question entirely). Screenings that take place inside of school, conducted by a school nurse or other medical professional, do not present this problem. But this is not why HSLDA opposed the bill.

But I want to talk for a moment about this thing HSLDA says about not needing screenings where there’s no indication of a problem. I had a friend growing up who was dyslexic, and her parents didn’t catch it until she was a teen. My friend, who was homeschooled from kindergarten through high school, spent a decade struggling with reading. If she had been in public school, her teacher may have noticed her struggle and had her tested for dyslexia, and a lot of difficulty could have been avoided.

My point is simply this: When it comes to things like learning disabilities, homeschooling parents sometimes do not notice as much as they think they do, and I suspect the same may be true for vision—especially given that homeschooled students don’t have to read off of a blackboard.

The 2013 e-lert in Oregon provides a possible clue to the reasoning behind HSLDA’s opposition to the Illinois law requiring mandatory eye exams for kindergarten students in public school:

Since this bill applies to all schoolchildren, this is not a homeschool issue but a parental rights issue. 

This makes a lot of sense. Remember that HSLDA’s core objective appears to center not around homeschooling but around parental rights. From that standpoint, any mandatory medical screenings for children—whether they take place inside or outside of a public school—are a violation of parental rights. It is only within this framework that it makes sense for HSLDA, an organization ostensibly only interested in laws that affect homeschoolers, to come out against an in-school medical exam for public school students.

I’d like to know HSLDA’s position on in-school medical examinations and screenings, but have not found that information as of yet. If I find it, I may add it as another entry to this series. But regardless of your position on mandating eye exams before kindergarten, HSLDA’s stance on this bill makes it obvious once again that homeschooling is not the organization’s primary objective—parental rights are.

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