We've been watching what Mrs. Q eats every day in the school cafeteria
since she launched her exciting, anonymous, honest and hugely engaging
blog, Fed Up With Lunch, earlier this year. (And we're not the only
ones: the blog's traffic has soared and has brought coverage from major
outlets such as Yahoo news and more targeted blogs like the Mother Nature
The premise is simple: Mrs. Q is "eating school lunch just
like the kids every day in 2010" and blogging about it. The
camera-phone photos, the candid descriptions of bagel dogs and fruit
icees, and the occasional winner of a lunch (like last week's chicken patty)
make for compelling and thought-provoking reading. It's interesting to
see Mrs. Q's thoughts on school lunch move from observation to analysis
as she tackles the broader systems questions surrounding school lunch.
And as much as I look forward to her daily cell-phone photos and quick
food reviews, I especially appreciate the days when she steps back to reflect
on the many questions that school lunches raise.
Recently, she took on
a question that's especially difficult and especially critical in times
of budget crisis for many school districts: why worry about school food
when money is so tight? Mrs. Q has generously allowed us to cross-post
her entry, which follows and is originally posted here. Many thanks to
Mrs. Q for sharing this analysis. Be sure to check out her blog at
There is no money
You should know that my job is on the chopping block just like so many
educators. So even if I don't lose my job for the blog, I still could
be shown the door because they don't have money to pay me.
Right now all over the country school administrators and principals are making some very difficult decisions. Cost cutting measures include: laying off all administration and ancillary staff including secretaries, assistant principals, reading specialists, curriculum coordinators, nurses, classroom aides, etc; closing pre-school programs, gifted programs, art, music, computer class, and extra-curriculars because they are not required by law; making kindergarten half-day thereby consolidating classrooms; offering early retirement to older, expensive teachers; letting go new teachers and closing their classrooms; and increasing class sizes to 40.
Have you ever seen a classroom with 40 students? I have... on multiple occasions. It's chaos. How does even the most talented teacher manage the behavior of 40 (small) people? I couldn't imagine leaving my child with 40 kids and one person. And that person would be in charge of educating my kid? Yeah, right. It's called bad babysitting. Read: Reduce Class Size Now and Class Size Matters
Research has found that for kids K-3 they need a teacher:student ratio of 1:20 (or less) to learn effectively. Many wealthy districts already provide classrooms that size. The classrooms at my school are already in the 1:30 range.
Have you ever met a kid walk into kindergarten without any preschool experience and no prep or support at home? Yeah, I have... these kids haven't been read to, don't come from a print-rich environment, and don't know rules and structure. Early childhood programs make a huge difference for children, especially those from disadvantaged homes. Read: Why investments in early childhood work.
I have gotten a couple questions from readers asking why I'm tackling school lunches when teaching positions are being closed because there is no money. I'd like to respond by saying: it's not "either/or."
We need make the long-term investment in children. We need to fund education. We need the best teachers. We need to feed students the best food we can find so that they can reach their potential as leaders. We are the USA after all! We act like we are the best, but look at how we fund education and school lunches. Do we really value children?
...Oh yeah, and let's add recess back because the last time I checked running around was free.
Read more at the Fed Up With Lunch blog.
And you can contact Congress about the need for healthy school food here.