This blog was first posted at Bustedpencils.com on 8/10/2016. My blogging will now encompass my additional activist work outside of education, so you can read my work here and at BustedPencils.
As you all know by now, I am no longer working at Jewell Elementary in the Aurora Public School District. However, I was recently alerted to a new policy regarding breakfast at the school. The school day starts at 9:25 a.m. This year, if children want to eat breakfast they must get there at 9:15 a.m. If they ride the bus I guess they'll be rushing in the door to eat in five minutes or so as breakfast time now ends at 9:30.
And there's more. There are two options: the children will be eating on the FLOOR in the carpeted HALLWAY outside the classroom OR the teachers can graciously give up some of their morning planning time and invite the children to come in and eat at their desks.
Let that sink in for a minute. I know your mind is racing, as mine did, as I tried to think through the implications here - and there are many.
The first thought I had was - what would ever cause anyone to even consider - fathom - such a policy, as children eating breakfast on the dirty carpeted floor like dogs? I am horrified that this policy was thought of and considered "rational."
Then of course, I tried to imagine what that policy might look like in action. Hallways lined with children with backpacks, coats, lunchboxes and juggling milk, juice, cereal and more. I tried to imagine how I would feel as a child if I was asked to eat my breakfast on the floor, without a place to properly set my things in order to manage it all. I thought about how that policy might impact my own personal beliefs about my self worth, if I were a child at Jewell. I thought about the racism that is inherent within the behavior policies via Relay Graduate School. I thought about the way the children at my school are expected to demonstrate 100% compliance, and how this breakfast policy smacks of that compliance. Sit. Eat. Comply. On the floor. Where is the respect for the child? Where is it? How can one create a policy so unkind and so disrespectful of a child?
I thought - are the white children in the burbs sitting on dirty carpeted floor eating breakfast each morning? You know the answer to that.
Other thoughts raced through my head. Now the teachers must give up planning time OR choose to inflict such a horrible thing on these children. However, the one caveat to having them eat in the hallway is that it might get the policy exposed. Parents might see and object. It should be exposed rather than hidden away quietly as teachers give up their planning and once more do whatever they can to protect children.
How can this even pass health code policies in the schools?
What if one child from a family gets to eat in the classroom and another child from the same family in a different class must sit on the dirty carpeted floor? How does this play out?
And mind you there are no plates or trays.
Of course if I were at Jewell today I would have said something. I would not have tolerated it.
But I am not at Jewell. My position was eliminated. They keep taking things away from Jewell's children. They took away their reading interventionist (my position which was eliminated) and now they are taking away their right to eat while seated respectfully at a table. I care deeply for these children and these teachers at Jewell - teachers who are once again placed in a position of making another decision that has such moral and ethical implications - not to mention HEALTH implications. The weight of these decisions is exhausting, truly exhausting. And teachers should NOT be required to give up planning time. Period.
To truly understand the vast implications of such policies as this racist, classist breakfast policy, I recommend reading The Power of Pedagogy: Why We Shouldn't Teach Like Champions as well as my blog where I dissect a portion of the Teach Like a Champion book and more. Layla Treuhaft-Ali in The Power of Pedagogy writes, "Teach Like A Champion promotes working-class behavioral norms through a pedagogy of order, uniformity, and obedience; similar pedagogy has been used in the past to maintain strict class and racial hierarchies and prevent the poor from challenging the powerful." I also recommend sifting through my blog and my work at BustEDPencils to get a good sense of Relay Fake Graduate School and the consequences of non-educators leading the way in the public school system.
I'm exposing this policy today in the hopes that this exposure makes this policy go away. I can assure you this would never fly in Douglas County or at Sidwell where President Obama's children attend. This policy flies under the radar only in urban diverse schools where children and teachers are being pounded by mandates in ways that my own son will never experience in the Littleton Public Schools.