Alas, I’m only kidding, of course. Happy April 1 anyway.Changes in Store for Elementary Schools
As part of a series of changes being introduced in local elementary schools, Iowa City schoolchildren will get a full thirty minutes to eat their lunches every day, School Superintendent Steve Murley announced this week.
“We concluded that we owe it to our kids to give them time to eat a nutritious, unhurried meal with their friends,” Murley said.
The change came in response to increasing concerns expressed by parents and community members about the elementary school lunch period.
Some parents said that, taking transition time into account, their children had as little as ten minutes to sit and eat lunch.
Murley said that the school board, reacting to community sentiment, had made the change a priority.
According to Murley, building administrators had resisted the move, citing concerns about the loss of instructional time and its possible effects on student achievement.
“I reassured them that the district would stand behind their efforts to ensure that school is about more than just maximizing class time and test scores,” Murley said.
“Some things can’t be measured by tests,” Murley said. “Our district believes that real education has to start by treating kids with dignity and respect, as we all want to be treated.”
Murley added that there was no reason to believe that a longer lunch period would lower student achievement.
Murley also said that school principals would be discouraged from enforcing overly harsh rules about noise and “voice levels” in the lunchrooms.
“You can go overboard in trying to stop kids from being kids, and it can end up being counterproductive,” Murley said. “Our goal isn’t to produce docile, submissive robots.”
“Seriously, sometimes I don’t know what these people are smoking,” he added.
Finally, Murley said that the district was considering abandoning its use of the Positive Behavioral Supports and Interventions (PBIS) program.
The program requires teachers to distribute frequent material rewards, such as bracelets made of colorful string, to students who display good behavior.
“It was a flop,” Murley said. “Parents complained about it, teachers resisted it, and then we messed up the recordkeeping so we couldn’t even assess what effect it had.”
“To top it off, it taught the worst possible values,” he added. “‘Do as I say so you can get a toy.’ Education by insult. Then we complain when the kids don’t respect us -- D’oh!” Murley said, hitting his forehead in an apparent imitation of television cartoon character Homer Simpson.
“We would have stopped it months ago, but then we would have had to give back the grant money,” Murley said. “Man, we learned our lesson with that one.”