Painting Parents With a Broad (Offensive) Brush

At the risk of giving this guy any more press, I am posting the link to this article:

Poll concludes 40% of Philadelphia parents are idiots.

Yeah, keep reading. It gets better. Read this little snippet:

Public schools are one of the longest scams running. They are shameful places where people nearly commit child abuse by having the State raise their kids. Look at the amount of people who have rated private schools at 74% complete satisfaction. Parents who send their kids to private school actually give a damn about their kids' educations. They sacrifice a luxury car or a beach house in Wildwood so their kids can grow up to be contributing members of society.

So, let's be clear about what I'm supposed to get out of this piece. Apparently, when I sent my daughter to private school - where she didn't have any opportunities to socialize outside of school with her peers - I cared about her. When I made the switch to public school - where my daughter is thriving and happy - I stopped caring about her. I see.

(*takes deep breath*)

Here's where I call bullsh*t. Mr. Proctor can choose to interpret the findings of this poll however he wants. I will tell you, however, that I was one of those parents who said that I was very satisfied with our public school choice. I am also willing to bet that more than 40% of the parents at my school voted similarly.

As for the supposed "lack of morality" in Philly schools? That's just offensive. My girls are good girls. Their teachers are remarkable, caring individuals. At our public school, there is no laundry list of "murders, assaults and rapes" that Mr. Proctor wants to convince you is the norm.

I understand that there are problems in the Philly public schools. Just down the road from our school is a school that consistently makes the list of "most dangerous" schools in the City. But that's not my school. And, unlike Mr. Proctor, I am not willing to accept that to be the inevitable result of my choice.

Not a week goes by - even during the summer - when I am not meeting with other parents or school officials, writing for grants, drumming up publicity and press for our school or helping to plan special events. And I am not alone.

That's not giving up responsibility. That's taking responsibility. It *is* clearly part of the solution. Mr. Proctor, on the other hand, and those that share his woefully pessimistic and damaging attitude towards public schools are a huge part of problem.

(Public Ed Mom's note: After reading the original post at The Examiner, my immediate reaction was anger. Then I read Mr. Proctor's bio and it all made sense: his whole schtick is to stir up controversy. I get that he wrote this piece hoping for just this kind of reaction - I'm sure that it adds fodder to his next set of rants. I almost didn't post my response because I didn't want to add fuel to this ridiculous fire. In the end, however, I felt compelled to share the other side; this will be the last time that I mention it on this site.)


Finally, We're Getting Somewhere

If you've ever eaten in a public school cafeteria in Philadelphia, you know what I'm talking about when I say it's bad. Beyond bad. What passes for lunch is gross. Actually, it's worse than gross and it's usually unhealthy. Most schoolchildren toss their lunches in the garbage, meaning that those same kids spend the day hungry. I watched one day as not one child - not one - even touched their "meat patty" in some kind of sauce. One by one, they were ceremoniously dumped into the garbage.

A number of parents that I know have approached the school and the SDP about ramping up the quality of the lunches. We're told the same thing, time and again, "It's out of our hands."

Despite the fact that I don't believe the SDP on this one (friends who teach in near suburban schools tell a different story about what their schools offer), I am aware that there are restrictions on what schools can offer students. Fortunately, that may be changing.

On June 10, 2010, Rep. George Miller of California introduced HR 5504, Improving Nutrition for America's Children Act. There are 33 co-sponsors of the bill, including Reps. Sestak and Platts of Pennsylvania.

A companion bill, S 3307, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, was introduced in May of this year.

A lot of the bill is exactly what you'd think, guidelines for free meals, authorizations for summer food grants, etc. But there is some promising language in the bill when it comes to nutrition. For one, the bill updates the nutritional standards:

As soon as practicable after the date of publication by the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services of a new edition of the Dietary Guidelines, the Secretary shall review and update as necessary the school nutrition standards and requirements established under this subsection.

It also requires schools under the Act to provide water for children to drink. I know this sounds like a no-brainer but it's actually fairly radical. My kids don't have the choice to drink water unless they want to line up at one of those horrid fountains.

Also radical? Grants for Farm to Schools and a Green Cafeterias Pilot Program.

There's some good stuff here. Is it enough? Of course not. But it's a good start. Let's just hope that, assuming it passes, Dr. Ackerman and her staff are quick to embrace the new guidelines, suggestions and pilot programs. As a high poverty district, my guess is that Philadelphia would both qualify and benefit from a lot of the potential changes as put forth in the bill.

To read the bill, click over to the Library of Congress. If you have comments for your Representatives in Congress who will be voting on the bill, you can contact them here.