Education

Keeping Kids in School Longer Won't Make Them Skinnier

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Since The New York Times posted a chunk my Bloggingheads from yesterday with Daily Beast contributor Dana Goldstein on the mainpage this morning, I thought I'd follow up on the topic of the section they chose: Extending the school day and offering kids three state-selected meals a day to slim them down. 

In case you need a reminder of what schools are currently serving to kids, it's this:

is that blood?

Goldstein proposes an extended school day as a logical response to the problem that parents are currently in charge of most of their kids' meals, and obesity data suggest that those parents are not doing a particularly brilliant job. Especially poor parents. In the Bloggingheads segment, I note that schools suck, as do school lunches, and forcing kids to consume more of that suck doesn't strike me as a great plan for solving America's problems.

But the impulse to move decisions for the care and feeding of the nation's chubby children into the hands of the government is a strong one, so I'll embroider on the point a bit more: The tough thing here is to resist the temptation to compare the real mistakes of parents to the imagined successes of a radically different school system.

In her follow up blog post Goldstein writes:

I'm imagining something like what the best public, private, and charter schools are already doing: a mix of additional instructional time and mealtimes with small group break-out activities like reading clubs, sports, board games, supervised computer time, library browsing time, and art and music lessons.

This sounds lovely, but it's not feasible in the near- or mid-term. As Goldstein also notes, achieving this will require teachers to put in more hours and welcome specialized part-time instructors into their schools, two things teachers unions have almost uniformly opposed.

It also requires giving up on the idea that dinner with family (even if it's often a quick run to McDonald's) is a vital time for family bonding and parental checking in. It means taking one of the biggest parental duties—feeding your kids—out of the hands of (poor) parents because they aren't performing up to someone else's standards.

Essentially, we're talking about swapping out parental muddling-through for an educational and nutritional experiment that virtually none of the adults involved in state education or nutrition services have demonstated any interest in trying.

The idea of a longer school day is catching on, with or without other reforms. But an extended school day and expanded lunch program is much more likely to produce a couple of extra hours of sit-still-and-be-quiet time and the meal above in triplicate than gently supervised frolicking and snacks of Kale Krunchers ™.

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  1. I’m imagining something like what the best public, private, and charter schools are already doing

    I, on the other hand, am imagining a pony.

    1. It would probably be best for all concerned if most of us DID NOT post what we were imagining.

      1. Katherine Mangu-Ward and Dana Goldstein…

        1. bikini-clad, wrestling in a vat of baked beans…

  2. I’m imagining a world where people mind their own fucking business.

  3. Goldstein proposes an extended school day as a logical response to the problem that parents are currently in charge of most of their kids’ meals, and obesity data suggest that those parents are not doing a particularly brilliant job.

    Yes, people are stupid – I know, I know, I know. Which is why the sage and wise elites should take care of everyone.

    But the impulse to move decisions for the care and feeding of the nation’s chubby children into the hands of the government is a strong one[…]

    Especially when it is so difficult to indoctrinate when the parents are present in their children’s lives. More time away from mommy will make it easier to mold the little tikes:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aBoBc-ifDmk

  4. As Goldstein also notes, achieving this will require teachers to put in more hours and welcome specialized part-time instructors into their schools, two things teachers unions have almost uniformly opposed.

    They may be tax-fed leeches, but they are self-interested tax-fed leeches.

    [Amen to that!]

  5. Katherine, can you run down the hall and give Matt some alt-text lessons?

  6. The hand that rocks the collective cradle…

  7. When you told Dana that schools, “well,suck” I almost pissed myself.

  8. “Goldstein proposes an extended school day as a logical response to the problem that parents are currently in charge of most of their kids’ meals, and obesity data suggest that those parents are not doing a particularly brilliant job.”

    So why doesn’t the state just get it overwith abduct the kids altogher?

    1. Because the poor have a basic human right to have unprotected, premarital sex, to keep the resulting kids, and to have you pay for their food and health care. But they don’t have a human right to make any decisions with respect to the kids’ feeding, education, or upbringing.

      1. Because the poor and middle class have a basic human right to have unprotected, premarital sex, to keep the resulting kids, and to have you pay for their food and health care. But they don’t have a human right to make any decisions with respect to the kids’ feeding, education, or upbringing.

        FIFY

        1. Thread winner!

    2. Well, if you’re going to have a nanny state….

  9. That lunch is a massive fart just waiting to interrupt trigonometry class. Doesn’t the resultant after-school detention already achieve Goldstein’s objective?

    1. They don’t have trigonometry anymore, it’s been replaced with Advanced Diversity in Mathematics or it’s IB equivalent Creative Algebra.

  10. So this is Don Berwick, substituting food for medical care. “The free market in food isn’t going to produce the kind of eating decisions we want. That’s for leaders with plans.”

  11. I’m really tired of hearing that only the middle-class and above can afford to eat healthy and stay lean.

    I ate healthy when I was making minimum wage. I bought 50-pound bags of rice at Wal-Mart for $8, and combined it with canned vegetables, canned tuna and chicken, and frozen whiting fillets. All that stuff is cheap. They even have cheap multi-vitamins.

    Too busy? None of that shit is hard or time-consuming to make. You boil rice in water for 15 minutes, you put frozen fish in the oven for about the same time.

    Maybe it’s not “fresh” but that doesn’t make any fucking difference other than being faster to make. It’s might not even be nutritionally optimal, but it’s better than the average diet.

    Let’s face it, this “epidemic” is ENTIRELY cultural. The fucking fat white trash want McDonald’s and beef and butter and fried shit and no state intervention is going to change that.

    1. Didn’t you get the memo? It’s not a culture issue, it is an advertising one. See, McDonald’s slick advertising affects poor trash, though the coastal elites are entirely unaffected by Ronald McDonald. Thus, if we simply banned fast food advertising, and ran slick ads for steam broccoli, the poor would get slim. Right? RIGHT?

      1. Don’t listen to him, children!

        1. Right, he has nothing constructive to add to this discussion.

      2. Of course. Just watching a McDonalds commericial is 6,500 hundred calories, and all those are fructose calories.

    2. Re: Old Bull Lee,

      I’m really tired of hearing that only the middle-class and above can afford to eat healthy and stay lean.

      You are missing the point entirely. What that pompous ass is saying is that the poor are stupid and they need “us, the enlightened ones” to take care of YOUR children.

      Don’t you see? You are SHEEP for those people, the elitists. You really think she gives a SHIT about what you or your kids eat???

      See what she’s saying: She “proposes” that children stay in school LONGER, that is, AWAY from their parents.

      Did you see The Killing Fields? Did you see who did the real killing? The children of the parents being murdered by them. That’s what this leads to, and not getting people to be leaner.

      1. From anti-obesity campaign to the killing fields, ah OM, my walking caricature, you make my morning!

        1. Re: MNG,

          From anti-obesity campaign to the killing fields, ah OM, my walking caricature, you make my morning!

          It’s just a few steps away from each other, baby!!!

          1. there was a reason why in the 1984 type novels of the world children were removed from their parents and most dictatoships there were youth camps. Children are ultimetally supposed to by loyal to the state, not the family.

    3. Agree, I was broke during grad school and lived mainly off brown rice, beans, eggs, broccoli, and canned salmon and mackerel fixed many different ways. All very healthy and cheap. I had sixpack abs and yes, the place did stink all the time.

      1. “…the place did stink all the time”
        You say that as if it were a bad thing. I found it a very effective anti proselytizing technique

  12. Why not mandatory morning calistheniics?

    The day that parents are charged with child neglect and required to attend parenting and nutrition classes for raising fat kids is in our near future. Progressives will lead the cheering section.

    As y’all are aware, we smokers predicted who would be next.

    1. THERE IS NO SLIPPERY SLOPE! NONE!

      1. Mmmmm…. Greasy slope…

        Aghhhhhhhh…

        1. Aghhhhhhhh…

          Is that the sound of drool, or the sound of Homer sliding down a greasy slope?

          1. Both.

        2. And one Iriquois Twist;
          Two Iriqouis Twists…

    2. Why should parents be allowed to influence their children’s religious views? Cultural interests? Morals? And, for the love of God, why should any parent be allowed to raise a child as a Republican or, worse yet, a libertarian?

      1. Don’t you let your kids eat ice cream for dessert sometimes? I think the government needs to step in, you monster.

        1. Holy cow. You’re right. Please send the commissar to claim my children for the better good of–the better good of–well, the better good of whatever they’re interested in promoting.

      2. Well, if my parents hadn’t raised me as a socialist, I wouldn’t be a libertarian.

        (And I wonder how many others can say the same?)

        1. My parents were completely apolitical. Like most self-made people are if they never encounter libertarianism.

          About the only politics I ever heard growing up was my kindly grandfather calling FDR “The worst son-of-a-bitch we ever elected President.”

          1. My mom told me that my great grandfather wouldn’t allow FDR’s name to be spoken on his property.

        2. If my dad hadn’t been a ridiculously stringent conservative, I wouldn’t be a classical liberal. Thanks dad.

        3. My dad’s views are mostly the same as mine – so, uh, yeah.

    3. “Smith!” screamed the shrewish voice from the telescreen. “6079 Smith W! Yes you! Bend lower, please. You can do better than that. You’re not trying. Lower, please! That’s better, comrade.”

    4. As y’all are aware, we smokers predicted who would be next.

      I must say I am at least slightly enjoying the obesity/nutrition freakout bullshit in that respect. Not as much as I would enjoy smoking in a damn bar, but…sniff!

    5. “Why not mandatory morning calistheniics?”

      Its been a while but when I was in middle and high school our PE classes had daily calisthenics…

      1. And THEN we can install a webcam in everyone’s house to make sure they are doing them!

  13. Someone needs to ask every one of these totalitarian shitheels who suggest this “so it would have been fine–assuming you did not go to a boarding school–if your school, when you were a kid, kept you all day and fed you what they thought was good, and not what your parents thought?”

    I guarantee that they will hem, haw, and then say something about “poor people”. These scum are just control freaks who love to social engineer, and poor people are the bacteria in their Petri dish.

    1. But you see, Epi, poverty is a Virus… and we are the cure.

      1. Correction, humans are the virus.

  14. We just need to fire all the bus drivers (and sell the buses to hippies, so they can follow Phish to Hell and gone). When those little bastards start walking to school in the snow, twenty miles uphill both ways like True Americans, they’ll get lean. Their IQs will increase, too.

    1. Now thats a winning solution.

    2. walking to school in the snow, twenty miles uphill both ways

      You forgot the howling winds and milking the cows before they left in the morning.

      1. My grandfather went to school with M.C. Escher. For him, it really was uphill both ways.

        1. Not to mention the strange schoolhouse steps.

    3. 20 miles in the snow.
      When I was a kid, I had to walk 20 light years to school, thorough molten lava, that had molten lave resistent alligators in it. I won’t even get into the vacuum and minus 451 degrees Kelvin of space…kids today.

      1. Softy! We had to fight off Boskonians every AU of the way! And there were ten supernovae every parsec! All the while, the space-time continuum was unravelling and Klono help you if you dropped your homework in a black hole!

  15. It sounds like Goldstein read Oliver Twist and thought “That would be a great idea if there was less floor scrubbing and more time spent in the library!”

    1. Why, what did you get from it?

  16. The fucking fat white trash…

    Yeah, that’s not who’s fat.

    The obesity rate is higher in cities than in rural areas, and it correlates highly with “neighborhood” crime rates.

    Comprende, yo?

    Don’t be displacin’.

    1. If you think there aren’t fat white trash living in cities then I suggest you go walk around a mall in Houston.

      1. I thought those were land orcas – I kept wondering how they could be out of salt water so long.

      2. Depends on which mall. Go to Sharpstown or Alameda and you’ll see plenty of fat trash, but it won’t be white.

  17. It always boggles my mind to see people who profess to care about the poor work so hard to deprive them of some of the things that bring the poor some of their pleasure. It’s the same bullshit motivation that is behind sin taxes.

    1. It’s a deeply Puritan mentality, as described by Mencken: “The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.”

      The truth is that what annoys some of these social reformers about food, booze or tobacco isn’t that it’s unhealthy, it’s the enjoyment people get from it that eats the Puritans up inside.

      1. I’m not sure I buy that. More likely is that these people, not enjoying the same things, completely undervalue how much other people do, and they focus only on the negative effects. I think they do feel they are “helping” the people they restrict, they just have a fucked up idea of helping someone, an idea that doesn’t respect that person’s autonomy…

        1. I think it is the old story of the hell-raising young rakes turning into “there oughta be a law” old fogeys that has gone on since Aristophanes wrote The Birds.

        2. Re: MNG,

          I think they do feel they are “helping” the people they restrict, they just have a fucked up idea of helping someone, an idea that doesn’t respect that person’s autonomy[.]

          There are many things being imposed on us by others that are a direct affront to a person’s autonomy. We have discussed this many times. And like a drug addiction, the desire to control others simply keeps growing as character and morality lessens.

        3. It’s easy to under value a happy meal when you’re 30 years old and shop at Whole Foods.

        4. Ironically, they see it for what it is (well, some of them see it) when it is about weed or sex outside “traditional marriage”. Hypocrisy at its best.

    2. Re: MNG,

      It’s the same bullshit motivation that is behind sin taxes.

      Or Prohibition.

      Or the War on Drugs.

      All of them were really offensives against the poor, under a guise of moral rectitude and prudishness.

      1. The poor and other “undesirables”, yes I would agree…

        1. Re: MNG,

          Indeed. The war on marijuana, for instance, grew from a campaign against “the brown races”, i.e. Mexicans, back in the 30’s.

          1. So, the spread of tanning salons is the beginning of the end of drug prohibition?

            😉

    3. Maybe, but some is the “free rider” argument: “I don’t want to pay for the fatties’ heart attacks.”
      So, in one sense, it is good to see the liberal elites concerned with “free riders,” because that way lies libertarianism. We just have a different solution: don’t have the government force us to pay for the consequences of free riding, whether it is riding a donorcylce without a helmet, or eating until you are so fat your heart goes haywire.

      1. Since we’re just printing the money now, it’s like no one is paying for the heart attacks. Who knew the path to Utopia wound through a printing press?

      2. Never mind that if you die sooner, your pension and medical bills end up being less than if you live longer.

      3. —“So, in one sense, it is good to see the liberal elites concerned with “free riders,” because that way lies libertarianism.”—

        NO, no, no. The “elites “have no interest in libertarianism. They have an interest in telling what to do (and not do) and when to do it. No Libertarianism there.

    4. It’s the same attitude that motivated “White Man’s Burden” thinking and the previous attempts by white people to remove Indian and Aboriginal children from their cultures and reprogram them to white cultural norms. The only real difference is that now they’re expanding the campaign to a lot of middle class whites as well.

  18. If I understand correctly. The plan to battle obesity is

    A) Ensure less kids play sports, cutting out 3-11 hours of exercise a week (not counting the time kids play those sports on their own).
    B) Cause parents who pack lunches to have to pack 2 more meals a day increasing the likelihood they will depend on the less healthy pre-packaged food.

    1. Someone has to say it:

      C) ???
      D) Profit!

  19. It also requires giving up on the idea that dinner with family (even if it’s often a quick run to McDonald’s) is a vital time for family bonding and parental checking in.

    No sweat. The government will continue promoting strong families by banning gay marriage.

    I’m imagining something like what the best public, private, and charter schools are already doing: a mix of additional instructional time and mealtimes with small group break-out activities like reading clubs, sports, board games, supervised computer time, library browsing time, and art and music lessons.

    Except the teacher’s union shut one of those schools down last year, and the other one is a victim of the recession.

    I remember school meals from the 1960s, (cheese enchilada Wednesday was particularly fragrant) and my kid’s school lunches from the 1990s, and why they took sack lunches.

  20. We’ve got essentially free (for them) health care for the poor and retirement planning for all, as well as all kinds of programs for children of single mothers, not to mention WIC and a host of other programs to keep everyone above the level of subsistence.

    At some point, don’t we have to realize that – despite the best efforts of the state to make sure everyone gets a fair shake – some people are either too stupid or lazy or don’t care enough to better their lot?

    1. I have always believe that making people into dependents is the worst thing you can do to them, especially if they are poor. It makes climbing out of the hole a lot harder.

      1. Which is why the progressives want to make the hole comfy. How to do that? Easy – Pull everyone else’s stuff into the hole. Still not comfy enough? Pull everyone into the hole. Job Done.

  21. In addition to the breathtaking arrogance of trying to take responsibility for feeding our kids, there’s a basic flaw in this plan: You can’t make kids eat what you serve them. My son is a picky eater and he will refuse to eat certain foods even if it’s all that is offered – he’d rather be hungry. I make sure that he gets enough protein, etc. via his select favorites and vitamins (that’s my responsibility, right?).If the state wants to replace my packed lunch with their “healthy” school lunches they’re asking for trouble.
    As a side note, I have a friend who taught Kindergarten in a poor area of Denver. The school provided free breakfast before class. And the parents couldn’t be bothered to get their kids there early to receive it – a total waste of money.
    If some parents can’t adequately feed or overfeed their children it should be dealt with directly – between the parent(s) and their pediatrician. It shouldn’t be assumed that all parents are incompetent, requiring state intervention.

  22. you can find whatever watch you want on my name

  23. I think this view is so sharp that I can not get it ,maybe should spend more time…

  24. When it comes to children’education,this is a common problem all over the world.every parents want their children growing better and better.Among this,the impacts of school is especially important on kids.of course there is the conflict existed.In one word,communication is the only way to solve.

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