February 8th, 2012
By: Lindsey Tanner
Junk food remains plentiful at the nation’s elementary schools despite widespread efforts to curb childhood obesity, a new study suggests. Between 2006 and 2010, nearly half of public and private schools surveyed sold sweet or salty snack foods in vending machines or other places, the study found. There was little change over the four years, a surprising finding given vocal advocacy campaigns to improve kids’ diets, said researcher Lindsey Turner, a health psychologist at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the study’s lead author. The study focused on snacks not sold during mealtimes, which until recently weren’t subject to government nutrition standards.
Schools most likely to sell chips, cookies or similar foods were in the South, where obesity rates are the highest; these foods were scarcest at schools in the West. The results are concerning, Turner said, because they show that many schools have not heeded messages from health advocates including the Institute of Medicine, which in a 2007 report urged limiting availability of food in schools outside of mealtimes, and said these items should not be sugary, salty or fatty snack foods. Many schools in the study also offered more healthy foods outside of mealtimes, including fruit and vegetables. But selling them along with junk food may tempt kids to skip the healthy options, and sends “mixed messages about healthful nutrition,” Dr. Thomas Robinson, a Stanford University pediatrician and obesity prevention researcher.
Robinson called the study results “sobering” and said a key strategy for reversing childhood obesity includes improving nutrition in schools. Recent data suggest that almost 20 percent of elementary school children nationwide are obese. Policies that limit junk food sold in schools have been linked with less obesity among students, said C. Tracy Orleans, a senior scientist at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which paid for the study.
The study appears in Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, released Monday. Robinson wrote an accompanying editorial. Anti-obesity advocates also have pushed to remove sugary sodas from schools, and some states and schools have enacted bans. Also, a 2010 report found a big decline in sales of these drinks to schools during some of the years studied. The new study, which focused only on foods, is based on surveys mailed to principals at public and private elementary schools. Nearly 4,000 responded, or more than half of those contacted. The participating schools were nationally representative and there were no geographic or economic differences in schools that didn’t respond that would affect the results, Turner said.
Overall, about 45 percent of schools sold sugary and salty snacks. Some schools sold low-fat salty snacks and baked goods, including pretzels and low-fat ice cream, but their high sugar or salt content makes them a poor choice, Turner said. Candy, salty snacks and regular-fat baked goods were more common at private schools than public schools; and low-fat ice cream was more common at both types of schools than full-fat ice cream snacks. The study authors say their results should encourage the U.S. Department of Agriculture to crack down on junk food in schools. A law enacted in December 2010, after the study ended, gives the agency authority to do so, and it is developing changes.
Before that measure, USDA policy restricted schools from selling foods “of minimal nutritional value” during mealtimes. Under the new law, the agency can set nutrition standards for all foods sold in U.S. schools.
Another USDA change announced last month focuses on making school lunches healthier, with changes including less sodium and more whole grains. The changes affecting snack foods “need to be comprehensive, they need to be strong, they need to be specific,” and they could be “a game-changer,” said Orleans. A website for the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service says restricting these foods can pose challenges for schools, because many rely on sales of snack foods to boost revenue. But it also explains why changes are needed.
“The constant availability of foods and beverages may increase the likelihood of impulse buying and contribute to overeating by some students,” the USDA website says. It lists states and school districts that have imposed some restrictions on these foods.
28 Signs That U.S. Public Schools Are Rapidly Being Turned Into Indoctrination Centers And Prison Camps
January 3, 2012
The American Dream
t has been said that children are our future, and right now the vast majority of our children are being “educated” in public schools that are rapidly being turned into indoctrination centers and prison camps. Our children desperately need to focus on the basics such as reading, writing and math, but instead a whole host of politicians, “education officials” and teachers are constantly injecting as much propaganda as they possibly can into classroom instruction. Instead of learning how to think, our children are continually being told what to think. Not only that, our children are also being trained how to live as subservient slaves in a Big Brother police state. Today, nearly everything that children do in public schools is watched, monitored, recorded and tracked. Independent thought and free expression are greatly discouraged and are often cracked down upon harshly. If students get “out of line”, instead of being sent to see the principal they are often handcuffed, arrested and taken to the police station. In addition, law enforcement authorities are using weapons such as pepper spray and tasers against young students in our public schools more than ever before. Children in U.S. public schools are not learning how to live as strong individuals in the “land of the free and the home of the brave”. Rather, they are being trained how to serve a Big Brother police state where control freaks run their entire lives. If we continue to allow all of the liberty and freedom to be systematically drained out of our school children, then there is not going to be much hope for the future of this nation.
The following are 28 signs that U.S public schools are being turned into indoctrination centers and prison camps….
January 18th, 2011
By: Honey Berk
Last night’s snowstorm may not have closed down New York City public schools, but most of the kids at P.S. 36 in Staten Island will be kept home by their parents, anyway, while the Department of Education sorts out a toxic mess.
Last week, potentially dangerous levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), a known carcinogenic chemical, were found inside the school as a result of leaking fluorescent light fixtures.
Banned in 1979 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), PCBs are now listed in the top 10 percent of the EPA’s most toxic chemicals. But, despite the ban, products made with PCBs still may be present in older buildings, typically in fluorescent lights and caulking.
Though the PCB situation at P.S. 36 came to light just last week, the teacher who reported it first noticed a drip from a light fixture more than a year and a half ago, Sam Pirozzolo, president of Community Education Council District 31, tells ParentDish.
However, it wasn’t until the teacher recently read an article about PCBs that she made the connection to what she had seen at the school.
In response to concerns expressed last week by school officials, the DOE closed two classrooms at P.S. 36 for testing, though the school remains open.
While EPA safety guidelines for PCBs limit exposure to 50 parts per million (ppm) or less, Pirozzolo tells ParentDish a swipe test on the floor at P.S. 236 last week showed dangerously high levels, ranging from 1,000 to 12,000 ppm.
Yet, Dennis Walcott, the city’s Deputy Mayor for Education and Community Development, refused to close the school, saying he and the city health commissioner do not believe there is a health concern that warrants closure.
But, in a letter obtained from Pirozzolo, EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck tells Walcott:
“EPA does not agree with your characterization of the potential health risks posed by PCB ballasts nor do we agree with your conclusion that there is no need for an expedited program to remove PCB containing lighting fixtures from schools.”
Fearful of the effects of PCB exposure, a majority of parents still refuse to let their children return to the school, and attendance has dropped to about 25 percent since Jan. 10, Pirozzolo says.
“I’m going to keep (my daughter) out until the truant officer tells me I have to send her back to school or unless test results come back and say the school is safe to go in,” parent Ellen Ambrose tells NY1 News.
To address the problem, the DOE sent a crew to the school over the weekend to inspect the fluorescent lamps, but the inspection turned out to be less than extensive, Pirozzolo says.
The situation escalated Jan. 10, when, during a meeting with Deputy Schools Chancellor Kathleen Grimm, parents discovered PCB stains in the auditorium where the meeting was being held.
“If you would have looked for a definition of PCB stain in the dictionary, that would have been it, right there,” Pirozzolo says.
In an unrelated incident, PCBs were recently discovered at another Staten Island school, P.S. 53, when it was randomly chosen by the EPA to be part of a pilot study checking for PCBs in a sample of New York public schools. As a result, eight classrooms have been closed.
November 3rd, 2010
By: Brock Parker
As a Muslim and a high school senior at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, 17-year-old Dunia Kassay faces a tough choice every year on Islamic holy days: go to school or stay home to be with family and friends.
If she stays home, Kassay says, she will be forced to play catch-up and make up her school assignments. But if she goes to school, she will be neglecting what she feels is her religious obligation on holidays such as Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan, the month of fasting.
“It’s really conflicting,’’ Kassay said. “Instead of fasting for a month and enjoying this really big day, eating and going to family’s houses, it’s kind of like, ‘Oh, hey, guys, I’ve got to go do my homework.’ ’’
But beginning next year, Cambridge public schools will attempt to make it easier for Muslim students to honor their highest holy days.
In a move that school officials believe is the first of its kind in the state, Cambridge will close schools for one Muslim holiday each year beginning in the 2011-2012 school year.
The school will either close for Eid al-Fitr or Eid al-Adha, also known as the Festival of Sacrifice, depending on which holiday falls within the school year. If both fall within the school calendar, the district will close for only one of the days.
The school district’s decision, announced last month, was made as the national discussion about Islam continues, fueled by a Mosque proposal two blocks from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Florida preacher Terry Jones’s threat to burn a Koran. The discussion has also touched local schools, as Wellesley school officials drew criticism recently for a video that showed sixth-grade students kneeling during a prayer service at a Boston mosque during a field trip in May.
But Cambridge School Committee member Marc McGovern, who pushed for the Muslim holiday in city schools, said he thinks people need to take a step back from what he called hysteria and the stereotypes of all Muslims as terrorists.
“At a time when I think the Muslim population is being characterized with a broad brush in a negative way, I think it’s important for us to say we’re not going to do that here,’’ McGovern said.
Cambridge schools already close for some Christian and Jewish holidays, and McGovern said he believes Muslims should be treated equally.
“The issue that sort of came up was should we celebrate any religious holidays, but there was not the will to take away Good Friday or one of the Jewish holidays,’’ he said. “So I said, if that is the case, I think we have an obligation to celebrate one of the Muslim holidays, as well.’’
State and federal laws require schools to make reasonable accommodation of the religious needs of students and in observance of holy days, but the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education leaves the decision about how to do that up to individual school districts because they “know best about the needs and unique demographic makeup of their student population and community,’’ said JC Considine, a spokesman for the department.
If a school district has a large number of students who observe Good Friday and would not attend school that day, Considine said the districts are allowed to close because of the expected low attendance. But the state does require districts to schedule at least 180 days of school.
Cambridge School Superintendent Jeffrey Young said the district does not collect information about the religion of its students. But Young said that there is a significant Muslim population in the city, and that, at least anecdotally, the Muslim population in the schools appears to be growing.
A large Muslim population is one of the reasons why the school district in Dearborn, Mich., began closing schools for high Islamic holy days 10 years ago, said David Mustonen, communications coordinator for the school system.
Mustonen said that at first there were some people in the community who didn’t like the schools being closed on Eid holidays. “However, I don’t think this is the case anymore as people have come to realize that it is no different then taking time off at Christmas or Easter,’’ Mustonen said in an e-mail.
In September, public schools in Burlington, Vt., also closed on Eid al-Fitr for the first time, said Dan Balon, director of the school district’s diversity and equity office.
Balon said there is an increasing Muslim population in the schools, and the district decided to close on the holiday rather than risk low attendance rates and force students to decide between school and staying home to celebrate the holiday.
July, 19 2010
By: Ethan A. Huff
A group of retired military officials recently expressed concern that school lunches are a threat to national security. According to them, the food being fed to children at public schools is making them “too fat to fight”, leaving a potentially considerable gap in military recruitment.
“Mission: Readiness”, the non-profit group of over 130 retired military leaders that is calling for healthier federal food for children, is expressing support for new legislation that would outlaw junk food from schools so that more children will qualify to enroll in the military.
The group believes that “national security” is America’s top priority, so it is doing everything it can to increase military enrollment, even if that means supporting and passing federal food restriction legislation.
According to the group’s report, roughly 75 percent of all young Americans between the ages of 17 and 24 do not qualify for military service because they do not finish high school, have criminal records, or they are not physically fit enough to serve.
According to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statistics, the number of states with 40 percent or more of the young adult population being overweight or obese has jumped from one to 39 in just ten years. Currently in three states, more than half of the young adult population is overweight.
Mission: Readiness is calling on Congress to amend the Child Nutrition Act to include three new policies:
- Permit the USDA to adopt updated nutrition standards that would eliminate high-calorie, low-nutrition junk foods from public schools.
- Provide additional funding to improve the quality of food at public schools and increase the number of children who have access to it.
- Administer school-based programs to teach parents how to teach their children to adopt better eating and lifestyle habits.
Sadly, the motivation for such legislation does not seem to be for the actual benefit of the children themselves, but rather to fuel the endeavors of the military-industrial complex. And while there are some good proposals for switching to healthier food in public schools, threatening proposals to further increase federal control over people also seem to be present in the push.
Supporting healthier food for children is always a good thing, but it’s important to lead the charge as a free and independent people, rather than simply grant increased power and control to federal bureaucrats. Remember, if they have the power to give it, they have the power to take it away.
April 9, 2010
By: Jonathan Berr
Plummeting tax revenue and shrinking budgets have put an unprecedented amount of stress on America’s educational system — and Corporate America has been stepping in to help. Companies like Target (TGT), Campbell Soup (CPB) and Procter & Gamble (PG) are increasingly putting up the money for everything from team uniforms to lesson plans.
While these companies may seem like saviors to some, many parents and education advocates worry that they can cross a line between corporate charity and blatant attempts to market to kids. Schools argue they have nowhere else to turn — and, in many cases, they’re right.
At least 29 states and the District of Columbia have cut spending on K-12 education, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. California, Hawaii, Michigan and Mississippi have drastically slashed school budgets, the report says. And more reductions are on the way. In Virginia and Mississippi, for instance, governors are proposing K-12 budgets cuts of 11% and 9%, respectively.
Corporate Sponsorships: A Necessary Evil?
“There are many districts and states (not to mention university systems) that are facing severe budget cuts,” says Doug Lynch, vice dean at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. “Are these children going away? Have their education needs diminished? Nope, that isn’t what is driving these cuts. The needs are the same or increasing, it is the resources that are scarcer. So, we can put our heads in the sand and talk about what ought to be or what might be, or we can be creative about solutions. I think most superintendents put their kids first, and so the question is: Which is the lesser of two evils — doing without, or finding creative ways of doing business?”
The end result, Lynch says, is that schools need to be “more entrepreneurial” to survive.
Entrepreneurial indeed. Even the National PTA is working with corporations to create programs that will “positively affect the bottom line” for thousands of schools across the country. “We’re looking more and more at our friends on the business side for their generosity and investment in children and education,” wrote Charles Saylors, president of the organization.
Public schools in San Diego County, Calif., are seeking corporate sponsors to help them fund extracurricular activities.Target is already offering scholarships to an outdoor education school in the area, while Kaiser Permanente is helping to fund a nutritional program for the county’s schools, according to Jim Easterbrooks, a spokesman for the San Diego County Office of Education.
“We are not going to sell anything on the backs of kids,” says Easterbrooks, whose district serves 500,000 students.
Turn Labels Into Minivans
Some corporate sponsorship efforts are a little less subtle. Procter & Gamble, the world’s largest consumer products maker, provides school curriculum material, including lesson plans and videos featuring Crest toothpaste, Puffs tissues and Always feminine hygiene products. Other popular programs, such as Campbell Soup’s Labels for Education and General Mills’s (GIS) Boxtops for Education initiatives, encourage students and teachers to buy the company’s products in order to redeem labels, coupons or box tops for cash, supplies, equipment and even vehicles. Campbell’s program, which has been around since 1973, awards schools roughly five minivans a year.
By Daniel Tencer
A lawsuit filed Wednesday by five students in the New York City school system against the NYPD paints a picture of school officers who routinely abuse students and arrest them for non-criminal activities.
The lawsuit (PDF), brought by the American and New York Civil Liberties Unions on behalf of five students aged 13 to 18, says that school safety officers “have a long-standing pattern of abuse, unlawful arrests and excessive force against minority students who commit even minor infractions like talking back, being late for class or having a cell phone in school,” Courthouse News reports.
“Aggressive policing is stripping thousands of New York City students of their dignity and disrupting their ability to learn,” Donna Lieberman, executive director of the NYCLU said in a statement. “Despite mounting evidence of systemic misconduct by police personnel in the schools, the NYPD refuses to even acknowledge any problems with its school policing practices. We are confident that the courts will compel much-needed reform.”
One of the plaintiffs in the suit was 11 years old when she says she was “handcuffed and perp-walked into a police precinct for doing nothing more than doodling on a desk in erasable ink,” a lawyer for the students said.
October 30, 2009
By Brett J. Blackledge & Matt Apuzzo
An early progress report on President Barack Obama’s economic recovery plan overstates by thousands the number of jobs created or saved through the stimulus program, a mistake that White House officials promise will be corrected in future reports.
The government’s first accounting of jobs tied to the $787 billion stimulus program claimed more than 30,000 positions paid for with recovery money. But that figure is overstated by least 5,000 jobs, or one in six, according to an Associated Press review of a sample of stimulus contracts.
The AP review found some counts were more than 10 times as high as the actual number of jobs; some jobs credited to the stimulus program were counted two and sometimes more than four times; and other jobs were credited to stimulus spending when none was produced.
_ A company working with the Federal Communications Commission reported that stimulus money paid for 4,231 jobs, when about 1,000 were produced.
_ A Georgia community college reported creating 280 jobs with recovery money, but none was created from stimulus spending.
_ A Florida child care center said its stimulus money saved 129 jobs but used the money on raises for existing employees.
There’s no evidence the White House sought to inflate job numbers in the report. But administration officials seized on the 30,000 figure as evidence that the stimulus program was on its way toward fulfilling the president’s promise of creating or saving 3.5 million jobs by the end of next year.
The reporting problem could be magnified Friday when a much larger round of reports is expected to show hundreds of thousands of jobs repairing public housing, building schools, repaving highways and keeping teachers on local payrolls.
But the White House promises many problems will be corrected in Friday’s report.
“I think you’ll see a pretty good degree of accuracy,” said Ed DeSeve, an Obama adviser helping to oversee the stimulus program.
DeSeve said the administration is aware of problems with the early data. Agencies have been working with businesses that received the money to correct mistakes. Other errors discovered by the public also will be corrected, he said.
HHS Secretary doesn’t want vaccine to” cause more damage than the flu”
June 17, 2009
by Lauran Neergaard
Schoolchildren could be first in line for swine flu vaccine this fall — and schools are being put on notice that they might even be turned into shot clinics.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Tuesday she is urging school superintendents around the country to spend the summer preparing for that possibility, if the government goes ahead with mass vaccinations.
“If you think about vaccinating kids, schools are the logical place,” Sebelius told The Associated Press.
No decision has been made yet on whether and how to vaccinate millions of Americans against the new flu strain that the World Health Organization last week formally dubbed a pandemic, meaning it now is circulating the globe unchecked. But the U.S. is pouring money into development of a vaccine in anticipation of giving at least some people the shots.
While swine flu doesn’t yet seem any more lethal than the regular flu that each winter kills 36,000 people in the U.S. alone, scientists fear it may morph into a more dangerous type. Even in its current form, the WHO says about half of the more than 160 people worldwide killed by swine flu so far were previously young and healthy.
If that trend continues, “the target may be school-age children as a first priority” for vaccination, Sebelius said Tuesday. “That’s being watched carefully.”
Schools do occasionally team up with local health officials for special flu vaccination clinics but it’s not common. More than 140 schools around the country scheduled flu vaccination days last fall, some providing free vaccine. Some vaccinated only students bearing parent consent forms; others opened their doors to entire families.
Sebelius faces the looming question of whether to push forward with swine flu vaccinations this fall, on top of the regular winter flu vaccine that will be distributed as usual. A key challenge would be making people understand who needs which, or both, vaccines, decisions that will be made in part based on how swine flu behaves in the Southern Hemisphere this summer, where flu season is just beginning.
Sebelius soon will call together the nation’s governors to be sure “these months between now and the fall aren’t used as vacation months” but in getting ready.
“We can always sort of back off” if the new flu fades away, she said, “but we can’t wait til October hits and say, ‘Oh my heavens, what are we going to do?’”
Companies are on track to provide pilot doses for testing later this summer, Sebelius said. Those government-led studies will check if the vaccine seems to work, if one dose or two will be needed, and most important if it’s safe. The last mass vaccination against a different swine flu, in the U.S. in 1976, was marred by reports of a paralyzing side effect — for a feared outbreak that never happened.
So the Food and Drug Administration will closely track vaccine safety, Sebelius said.
The secretary said: “The worst of all worlds is to have the vaccine cause more damage than the flu potential.”