Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe
Call it pandering, but I'll never try to take cookies from your children:
"Illinois suffers from the fourth-highest level of childhood obesity in the nation, with Chicago kids checking in heavier than the rest of the state. Yet, while many school districts are phasing out sweet treats, Chicago Public Schools officials continue to say, let them eat cake."
This is my favorite part:
"But even with the district in financial crisis, the Tribune has learned the district will continue to buy and serve the sweets to most of its 240,000 elementary school kids — 80 percent of whom are on the free and reduced lunch program."
Here's the punchline:
Mmm, "big corn dog." Elgin is clearly on the cutting edge of school health.
[Don't get me wrong: I love corn dogs. When I cooked in the school cafeteria in college (long story), I made them by hand for my classmates from a Better Homes & Gardens recipe. I'm just saying that they are special treats.]
The way I see it, if we can't educate or protect CPS students, at least let them have a fucking dessert. No children were quoted in the article as to their opinion of taking away their cookies.
It's worth noting here that one of the damn shames of public education in the late 20th and early 21st centuries has been the death of recess, particularly in overburdened, understaffed low-income schools. Natalie Pardo wrote an outstanding feature for the Chicago Reporter (can't figure out the date, but I think it's from 1998):
"Recess is available in only about 10 percent of schools that are at least 95 percent low-income. That proportion climbs as the poverty rate declines: At 14 schools with less than 30 percent low-income students, 12 enjoy recess."
Why do some schools not have recess?
"They make those determinations based on what academic concerns they have for the school, or what safety and health concerns recess may cause."
In 2006, WBEZ's Lisa Miller (full disclosure: a good friend of mine) found that fewer than 1 in 5 Chicago public schools had recess (mp3). It's a heartbreaking piece, especially the point where the kids didn't know what to do when they went outside.
And it's not just your average schoolkid who suffers from a lack of attention to athletics and outdoor activities. Competitive athletes don't have it any easier:
"Years ago kids in Chicago learned how to jump or throw the shot put by competing on Park District teams. But with the Park District's drastic cuts in programming, those days are long gone."
"The biggest problem with running in the hallways is the wear and tear on the body. The floors are hard and unforgiving, and the constant pounding leads to shin splints and stress fractures. Turner says one of his ankles is chronically achy."
"Kris Roof thinks the city should link the Olympics to an outreach program that builds field houses all over the city and stocks them with supervisors who know what they're doing. But at the moment the city has no plans to build any track and field facilities for the schools or general public. While the Olympic boosters raise millions to bring the games to Chicago, the next generation of public school track students will share Turner's plight—running the hard hallways and ripping the hell out of their legs. "
I won't deny, despite my skepticism about obesity paranoia, that childhood obesity is significant. But taking away dessert is a chintzy half-measure that sounds a lot more like shaming in the guise of "health." Given the disappearance of recess and home ec from school curricula, pulling dessert just seems like the final insult.