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Monday, January 31, 2011

Mystic Monday

Education and the Government

On Friday, I knew what I wanted to write about today. On Saturday, it changed, and then on Sunday, I forgot all of the ideas, and then watched some of my weekly programming and remembered what it was I wanted to blog about today.

Usually, I don't bring political topics here, but this one isn't just political because it involves our kids.

In recent weeks, there have been some bills that have people in a tizzy about schools. One has been about food offered in schools, and the most recent one allows the parents be graded by the school on their participation.

In fact, The Talk, a CBS talk I watch (not regularly, but I DVR every episode and watch them at the end of the week, lol!), brought up both of these topics for discussion on their show.

Yeah, okay, so I'm a little late discussing this topic, but it's a topic that people can't stop talking about or the existing problems will be forgotten about or put on the back burner.

The problem topic is our schools. This one is close to me not because I necessarily have any kids in schools - though my some of my nieces and nephews are still in school - it's because of what I myself witnessed as a student.

Yes, there are public schools out there that are really great, but there are also schools out there that more than one way! The government is beginning to see a true need for action, and is stepping in, which is why it has everyone in an uproar. The problem is, the individual states and school systems themselves aren't stepping up to the plate to make things happen - they just accept what's going on and go about their business because they feel there's nothing they can do.

Because of this, the government is stepping in. Now, some people might feel that it's over-stepping the bounds, but it's not. The government is acting because our schools are failing our kids and nothing is being done about it, even though people have been trying! They are being met with opposition from state reps, which is why things are being done on the Federal level. In my opinion, it's about time!

First Topic - Changing the Food in Schools

This topic came to mind as I was walking through the Bradley Center with my food on Saturday. Someone was rude enough to make a comment saying that it, "wasn't Michelle Obama approved food". Now, I have no idea whether he was trying to be nasty to me, or make a general comment about the crappiness of the food there. (Other people do like the food options available at the BC but as far as I'm concerned, it's all just junk food and not very good either.)

No, the fries, cheese fries and burger are not considered healthy by Michelle Obama, but they aren't by me either. I wouldn't be eating there, but the Milwaukee Bucks gave us $100 in free food vouchers when we resigned up for our half-season package to their games. Well, we decided we were going to use it rather than let it go to waste because - for those who don't really see the truth of it - it's the Bucks' way of giving money back to the Bradley Center. When I use my card at one of the food places, chances are I'm supporting one of the local school organizations, and that's fine with me.

However, there really isn't anything all that healthy to eat. I would honestly prefer to eat a grilled ham and cheese or even a sliced beef or pit ham sandwich, but they do not have anything like that. Here's what they generally offer:
hot dogs
chicken fritters and fries (buffalo or plain)
chips, fries and other assorted junk foods
Pepsi products only

Everything they offer is either high fat, deep fried or just plain junk food and it's ridiculously expensive that I honestly wouldn't pay those prices for the low-quality food I get if I went to a restaurant. In fact, the food you'd get at a restaurant would be better, taste better, and the prices would be cheaper or equivalent.

There aren't any healthy options available, which is why most of us usually eat at home or at one of the places on Water Street (or near there) before we get to the Bradley Center anyway.

Why is food at places like schools and event centers putting people in such a tizzy?

Well, you have those who feel the government doesn't have the right to tell you what it can and can't eat, and then there are those who actually read the whole thing, and understand what the real issue is. The target of the legislation here is the Federal School Lunch Program.

Many public and private schools and daycare facilities participate in the School Lunch program. If you've ever eaten the food, you know it's high fat and not really the best we could be giving our kids.

Yes, there are arguments that people can pack the healthy stuff, but why should those kids that have to eat the school meal programs (most likely the only meals some of these kids in poorer areas get) - because many of the state welfare programs say they have to - be subject to high fat and bad food?

It's a known fact that we have an obesity epidemic in this country, and bad or good eating habits start when the kids are young. So, why shouldn't the school lunch programs encourage better eating for everyone?

The bill does not say that your child wouldn't be able to have pudding or any of that. You would be free to send it with your child. The point is, the food choices for lunch leave a ton to be desired in terms of health.

Studies show that good study and other habits stick with kids when the schools and the parents work together, so what's so wrong about the school lunch program working with parents to offer better food choices?

In my opinion - Nothing! In fact, it would be nice if community event places offered better food instead of the cheap fried crap you can buy in bulk from your local food stores.

Topic 2 - Schools Grading the Parents

Recent studies have shown that parental involvement in his/her child's school life can greatly improve that child's chances for success. I've heard both sides to this, and I think both sides have good ideas:

The Bill - grade parents for their participation (how prepared is your child, are they there on time, are you doing what you're supposed to be doing - signing permission slips, etc.)

The parents - if you're going to grade me, I want to be able to grade the school and teachers too.

Both ideas are fair.

We have too much disparity between school districts, and I'm not talking about number of students or tax dollars, I'm talking about what's offered to the students.

This has people in an uproar because many people don't want to have their tax money go to support poor people.

Here's the bigger picture that most people aren't seeing:
1. Poor education leads to poor job choices and less of a chance to get into a college.
2. Poor job choices combined with a lack of intelligence tends to encourage kids into making bad life choices because they feel they don't have any other options. In you saw what some of the schools in these areas look like, you'd feel the same way too.
3. Bad life choices can lead to a life of crime.

This problem isn't new, in fact it's been around for decades. Many of you who went to college in the 90s have probably had to read Jonathon Kozol's Savage Inequalities. If you haven't read it, read it. It's an eye opener. This discusses how schools in underprivileged areas don't offer classes like other schools do because, in effect, they do not believe the underprivileged kids are smart enough to do anything other than work in the service industry and train them in such manners.

Another one to read is Dumbing Down Our Kids by Charlie Sykes. This one discusses the degradation of the education requirements in the school system that has been perpetuated by the "No Child Left Behind" reforms. While a nice idea, it went about them incorrectly. Instead of forcing schools to work with those struggling to learn, it brought down the overall standards to make it appear that we are doing better, when in fact studies show that our graduates are far behind the mark when it comes to intelligence.

In light of the recent knowledge that kids are intellectual sponges when they are young, we should be pushing kids harder - challenging them to learn. Sure, not all will rise up and meet those challenges, but it shouldn't mean that all children should be denied the opportunity to get those challenges either.

If all kids are offered the same good education - many more of them will succeed and make something of themselves, and not be stuck in a poverty situation. Sure, there will be some that fail, but a lot less than there are now. In fact, there would be a reduction of violence on our streets if we all cared enough about kids who didn't ask to be born in a poor living situation to parents who can't take care of them.

No, they didn't ask for it, yet every time someone says, "Why should I pay for poor kids to get anything?" and fights legislation and reform bills that work to level the playing field, think about how that innocent child could become corrupted because he or she didn't have anyone capable enough of looking out for their educational needs.

Kids don't ask to be poor. They don't ask to have bad parents. The reality is that it happens.

If we, as a society, want to reduce crime rates and murder rates, then we need to step in and take care of the children of the poorer society. We need to change the schools so that kids feel safe when they are within the walls of a school and can feel free to think, learn and feel emotions other than fear.

If you aren't willing to help change the schools in your poorer sections of your area/state, then you have no right complaining about the increasing crime and murder rates.

If schools were regulated so that all schools offered the same types of classes - then these schools could also then be allowed to work together to offer more to their students.

We still have oppression in this country and it's perpetuated by the inequality of education that exists from one school district to another.

If you haven't seen it yet, you may want to buy or rent Waiting for Superman (pictured above). If you buy it, money from the purchase goes to help those schools in need.

Want to learn more?

Check out the site:

What about you? What are your feelings on this topic?

1 Moonbeams (comments):

Carrie said...

Some of us accidentally commented on Phantasm Friday (January 28th), so if you want to read any of those posts, please check them out! Thanks!