Monday, December 13, 2010

Thoughts about the school lunch meeting, part 1

A group of parents and students met with our school superintendent tonight to talk about our concerns that the lunch period in our elementary schools -- which is only fifteen minutes, including the time spent waiting in line and coming and going -- is too short. (Their petition is here.) Over the course of the meeting, people expressed other, related concerns as well -- such as some schools’ practice of insisting the kids eat lunch very quietly, or while fully dressed in their outdoor winter clothes (since there is otherwise not enough time to dress for recess). People also expressed dismay at the role No Child Left Behind, with its forced emphasis raising standardized test scores, has played in causing school administrators to increase instructional time at the expense of the lunch and recess.

The superintendent, who is new this year, was personable and good at conveying that he understood people’s concerns. Nonetheless, I left the meeting feeling that there was a noticeable gulf between him and the parents in the room. What was missing was any acknowledgement from the superintendent that, when school administrators are deciding that it’s a good idea to make the kids eat lunch in under fifteen minutes, without giving them time or permission to converse in normal voices -- and sometimes even bundled up in winter clothes -- something has gone very, very wrong. The superintendent seemed to respond to those concerns by saying, “Well, I can see your point.” Meanwhile, the parents in the room seemed to be thinking, “What the hell is going on in the Iowa City public schools?”

Part 2 here.
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5 comments:

FedUpMom said...

Chris, I wish you luck. You are living out in real life something I've been told to do on the stophomework page -- "if you don't like it, take it up with the superintendent!" I hope you get results.

northTOmom said...

To whom are superintendents supposed to be accountable? I find the structure of school boards confusing. In any case, I'm looking forward to part 2....

Chris said...

You've said a mouthful, northTOmom. For all the talk about "accountability," it's sometimes awfully hard to see the connection between what the community would want and what the school system does. More on that in part 2.

Caitlyn said...

It seems as if the ideas the parents put forth are humane ways of treating children. Conversely, school administrators seem to have no probblem treating kids inhumanely (even though they profess to love kids). Why do you think there is such a big disconnect between what they say and what they do?

Chris said...

Caitlyn -- Thanks for commenting! The whole purpose of No Child Left Behind is to use the threat of withdrawing federal money to get local school administrators to do things to the kids that they otherwise would not be willing to do. More on that topic in one of my next posts.