Compulsory education laws, the gregarious instinct of children, the ambition of parents, their self-interest, and the activities of child-labor committees combine to-day to insure that one or more representatives of practically every family in the United States will be in public, parochial, or private schools for some part of the year. The purpose of having these families represented in school is not only to give the children themselves the education which is regarded as a fundamental right of the American child, but to protect the community against the social and industrial evils and the dangers that result from ignorance. Great sacrifices are made by state, individual taxpayer, and individual parent in order that children and state may be benefited by education. Almost no resistance is found to any demand made upon parent or taxpayer, if it can be shown that compliance will remove obstructions to school progress. If, therefore, by any chance, we can find at school a test of home conditions affecting both the child's health and his progress at school, it will be easy, in the name of the school, to correct those conditions, just as it will be easy to read the index, because the child is under state control for six hours a day for the greater part of the years from six to fourteen.[4]

[4] Sir John E. Gorst in The Children of the Nation reads the index of the health of school children in the United Kingdom; John Spargo, in The Bitter Cry of the Children, and Simon N. Patten in The New Basis of Civilization, suggest the necessity for reading the index in the United States and for heeding it.

(Facsimile) Physical Record

What, then, is this test of home conditions prejudicial to health that will register the fact as a thermometer tells us the temperature, or as a barometer shows moisture and air pressure? The house address alone is not enough, for many children surrounded by wealth are denied health rights, such as the right to play, to breathe pure air, to eat wholesome food, to live sanely. Scholarship will not help, because the frailest child is often the most proficient. Manners mislead, for, like dress, they are but externals, the product of emulation, of other people's influence upon us rather than of our living conditions. Nationality is an index to nothing significant in America, where all race and nationality differences melt into Americanisms, all responding in about the same way to American opportunity. No, our test must be something that cannot be put on and off, cannot be left at home, cannot be concealed or pretended, something inseparable from the child and beyond his control. This test it has been conclusively proved in Chicago, Boston, Brookline, Philadelphia, and particularly in New York City, is the physical condition of the school child. To learn this condition the child must be examined and reexamined for the physical signs called for by the card on page 34. Weight, height, and measurements are needed to tell the whole story.

When this card is filled out for every child in a class or school or city, the story told points directly to physical, mental, or health rights neglected. If for every child there is begun a special card, that will tell his story over and over again during his school life, noting every time he is sick and every time he is examined, the progress of the community as well as of the child will be clearly shown. Such a history card (p. 314) is now in use in certain New York schools, as well as in several private schools and colleges.

Have you ever watched such an examination? By copying this card your family physician can give you a demonstration in a very short time as to the method and advantage of examination at school. The school physician goes at nine o'clock to the doctor's room in the public school, or, if there is no doctor's room, to that portion of the hall or principal's office where the doctor does his work. The teacher or the nurse stands near to write the physician's decision. The doctor looks the child over, glances at his eyes, his color, the fullness of his cheeks, the soundness of his flesh, etc. If the physician says "B," the principal or nurse marks out the other letter opposite to number 1, so that the card shows that there is bad nutrition.