Monday, August 30, 2010

What Are We Dealing With?

Over the past few years, I have seen a number of videos that are intended to present facts and give perspective to the world we live in. I know it is easy to dismiss them because it is also easy to feel like we are in rural northeast Iowa and a long ways away from this global perspective. However, just a few years ago we were quite a ways away from Direct TV and cell phone service! Folks, we need to pay attention to this stuff as we chart our educational course for the future.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Healthy Kids

Some of you may have heard about the Healthy Kids Act. It is a federal piece of legislation that has forced quite a bit of change on schools in the past couple of years. This year full implementation of this act must be in place. While I do not believe that anyone will disagree with the idea that we need to do what we can to help children lead healthy lives, there is some interesting debate about this legislation. Some of you will find some of the changes we have to make going to far. Others will understand why it is being done.

Senator Tom Harkin has been a leader in the development and passage of these new laws. I remember a few years ago that money was made available to qualifying schools to put fresh fruit and vegetables in front of students for snacks during the school day. At Indianola High School, there were boxes of apples in the hallways for students to pick up and eat on the way to class. At Creston Elementary, students received carrots, celery, broccoli, and cauliflower with ranch dip in the afternoon. The Senator had a lot to do with this, but interestingly, I don’t hear about this much any more.

Now that the act is to be fully implemented, a number of noticeable changes will be in place this year. No carbonated beverages can be sold during the school day. No candy or other restricted items can be sold during the school day as a fundraiser, which includes some of the bake sales groups have had. No pizza parties during the school day. I know that there will be disagreement on a number of the things that we are required to do, and honestly, I’m not sure I agree with all of them. However, it is law and we will input the changes with integrity. The one thing about this that truly bothers me is that while we are required to make all of these changes because of the high levels of childhood obesity in our country, we seem to be the only ones required by law to do so. This is certainly a scary health problem. But I do not believe for a minute that the diets and levels of exercise will change outside the school. In my opinion, there needs to be a much bigger attitude shift in our country. Since schools receive public funds, it is easy for our government to invoke rules on us, and at the same time, nearly impossible to do the same thing in the private sector. And, we are charged with education, and thus it does make sense that we have a role in this effort. However, as long as they give out toys in kid’s meals that are limited in their nutritional value, are we fighting a losing battle? Are there other sectors that can help fight the battle?

We live in a land of plenty and in many respects we have become out own worst enemy when it comes to our health. Too often we do not thing about the consequences of our sedentary lifestyle, yet expect medicine to take care of problems that we have imposed on ourselves. Thinking all of this through, perhaps this is a good first step, but I honestly believe that we are going to need more Jessie Oliver’s to take on this food revolution if we are going to make a difference.

Friday, August 13, 2010

A New School Day

The day at the high school will start a little earlier this year. First period will begin at 8:15 a.m. That is seven minutes earlier than in years past. Our day will finish at 3:20 p.m. Make sure to set your alarm clocks accordingly!

Not only has the start and end times changed, but what happens in the middle has changed as well. We actually have two different schedules. The A and B Day stays, but we will have a different look on Tuesdays and Thursdays. First off, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday have a standard eight period day. The length of the class periods is longer than in the past at 48 minutes. However, on Tuesday and Thursdays, we will have an advisory period for twenty minutes between second and third period.

In light of these changes, we have an additional 44 minutes a week of instruction time. You can never have too much of that!