Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Kids Fed Everything but Education

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Kids Fed Everything but Education

Article excerpt

Byline: Bill Longenecker, Shorelines columnist

Last March, a school in east Arlington helped foster the increase of childhood obesity. As a mere substitute teacher, I felt like a deer caught in the headlights, unable to do anything to stop the impending tragedy.

A feast was planned for the fifth grade. It began with an obese mother angrily scolding a class of great fifth-graders for not having their parents bring in more "hot dishes." Her own obese fifth-grader weighs in at about 150 pounds. One mother had already brought in enough fried chicken for the entire class.

The hall was made into a huge buffet and the classes were sent through the line to fill their plates. The kids dove into vast quantities of food. The mother then served four desserts to each child. Eating went on for almost an hour.

Lots of half-eaten servings were pitched into the garbage as the desserts were passed out. We did face a Fun Friday a bit later and most of the kids went outside for another hour.

Two hours of their six-hour day went by with no instruction. Another 15 minutes was lost to a "snack time" built into the morning about 10 a.m., just 90 minutes into the day.

This is not a school where many kids are denied breakfast. These kids did not need the massive amounts of calories and school-sanctioned gluttony. The adult onset form of diabetes is beginning to increase in children as obesity rates increase. Poor eating habits were being taught and rewarded.

When schools stuff their time with so many filler activities designed to make school artificially fun, they undermine the actual reason for which schools exist. Students get very mixed messages. Ironically, many good teachers can actually make the classroom materials interesting and "fun" if the outsiders would just let them teach.

Useless "mandated" field trips creep into the school day as well. A local middle school once took all of its eighth-graders to see a production of Wizard of Oz done by students at Sandalwood High School. I was told the official reason was that some would attend that school in ninth grade.

What a treat for eighth-graders! They missed over three hours of classes to see a child's story done by amateurs. …

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