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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

It’s Breakfast Time, and Education Will Pay

This article from the Chicago News Coop details how at elementary schools throughout CPS, children can now eat breakfast right in the classroom. What was once a voluntary program of breakfast in the classroom is now mandatory. Even worse they say because of this what is already the shortest school day among elementary school districts in America's largest cities have gotten a lot shorter.

A typical day for elementary school students in Chicago is five and a half hours. Comparable to when I went to school years ago from 9 AM to 2:30 PM. Of course I have noticed that students at Shedd go to school at least 15 minutes longer than I used to. Thus it seems their day ends not at 2:30 but at 2:45.

According to this article officials at CPS says that breakfast should take no more than 10 minutes, unfortunately:
It gets worse. Schools like my son’s may stagger lunch due to inadequate space. At his school, kindergartners go at 10:30 — a little more than an hour after they’ve had breakfast. Isn’t that nutritionally sensible!

Colleen McVeigh is a teacher who was a consultant to the AUSL network, a group turning around some very tough schools. She taught at 14 of the most challenging elementary schools. Each started the voluntary program and, she informed me, “the notion of taking 10, even 15 minutes, is total garbage.”

Ms. McVeigh said that 25 to 30 minutes of instructional time went poof. Younger kids are, well, younger kids. They need help to open cartons or peel oranges, spill milk, etc. When she caught the drift, she wound up not arriving at her assigned school until 9:20, as was true with many students, she says, because of the breakfast delay.
So what might the students be losing during the course of their school day?
So chew on this: children are losing, perhaps, 20 minutes each day. That’s 57 hours over 170 school days, or more than 10 days — of instructional time.
OK, here's an idea give an extra half-hour at least to the school day. That is start school at 8:30 AM instead of 9 AM. For those student who want breakfast they should arrive at least 30 minutes before the start of classes for the day. Make notification to parents to let them know that breakfast food is available to them.

This may not be the best solution but I've put mine out there at least. There are some who could use a good meal before they start the day. Especially for the sake of their own nutrition.

 BTW, check out the Capitol Fax. In addition to a discussion about campaign finance in Illinois, they also posted this very article near the bottom of the post there. Check out the comments made on this very issue although you would have to thoroughly read the comments to find the ones about breakfast in schools.

CapFax is an adult blog, but don't expect anything vulgar there.

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