Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The kids can't have their cake or eat it.

New York City’s Mayor Bloomberg has struck another blow in his battle to save the city’s schools by effectively banning bake sales.

Praise God! Our children may not be able to think, but at least they won’t be fat.

Bake sales have been traditional money raisers that have helped fund extracurricular activities. They have become increasingly important as school budgets have been feeling the fallout from a crippled economy. A decent bake sale can clear a $500 profit on a good day.

The problem is too many calories.

It seems the good mayor is worried about the obesity that is spreading that is the latest media plague sweeeping across the land, so he’s doing his part by restricting bake sales to once a month after the lunch hour is over.

Officials are worried that too many fat kids are performing poorly on standardized tests which are how a child’s worth is measured these days. They elide over the fact that a statistical correlation does not necessarily imply a causal relationship. But, what can you expect from a Mayor who banned transfat from the city’s restaurants.

Repression has a need to regulate all aspects of the public’s life, even down to what it may or may not eat.

One of life’s miracles is that so many children grow up to be decent adults in spite of the best efforts of educators. Here, a distinction must be made between teachers and educators. Teachers are heroic and dedicated individuals who do grunt work when it comes to teaching our children. Often they do this by ignoring educators. Educators are never found in the classroom. Instead, they are found in drab board of education headquarters dreaming up assorted wild schemes to justify their existence, such as restricting bake sales or coming up with creative ways to dehumanize children by quantifying them.

The sad fact is that the child is not a factor in the equation of educational policy. Rather, the child is a marketing tool used to squeeze more money out of depleted public coffers. Children are sold as the future of America who are then dumbed down by having their heads crammed with disparate and discrete dollops of data that, in time, dulls whatever critical facilities they possessed just so they can perform well on standardized tests.

Having spent eighteen years as a teacher in New York City, I offer the one caveat: Despite the army of educators that permeate the system, the city’s schools work miracles given the challenges teachers face every day. The children of the world pour into their classrooms, children who have known war, homelessness, grinding poverty, drug addicted parents, crime and exploitation. (While I was a per diem sub I once taught an ESL class in which one of the children was a nine-year-old boy who had just arrived from Pakistan. He spoke only Urdu and had never been in a classroom in his life. To educators he was a liability because he was sure to score low on the standardized tests because he couldn’t read them.)

Those who claim our schools are failure have never spent time in an urban classroom.

The system’s success is even more amazing when we remember that it is being run by administrators who idea of creativity is banning bake sales.

If only they’d emphasize critical thinking.


David M said...

Also he might have a stake in all the vending machines sales in the school system and bake sales are cutting into his bottom line. Under the constitution capitalist have a right to make a profit-no matter what the cost.

Case Wagenvoord said...

I can't believe Mike would do that!

Anonymous said...

Good points, great post!

Case Wagenvoord said...

Thanks. Good to hear from you.