“There Is No Money” – from Mrs. Q at Fed Up With Lunch

March 30, 2010

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
Network
.)

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
http://fedupwithschoollunch.blogspot.com.

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.