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The Right Note: There Oughtta Be A Policy

by Mark Kelly January 14, 2016 at 1:30 pm 0

Mark KellyThe Right Note is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

It is easy to find amusing news. Last year, the Virginia General Assembly debated a bill on whether schools should be allowed to have bake sales to raise money. This year the question is, should Arlington Public Schools pass a ban on birthday parties?

Maybe like me you are thinking, come on, this birthday party ban can’t be a serious proposal. But we live in a world where personal responsibility is waning and calls for government to “do something” is growing. So let’s take a look at the arguments made at the most recent Arlington School Board meeting to see whether we should all be concerned.

Health. You could make the argument that centering a celebration around a sugar-laden treat is setting a bad example for a healthy lifestyle. And childhood obesity is a long-term health concern for our nation. But we can dismiss the idea that consuming two or three cupcakes per month is making kids obese. Daily choices on what children consume for about 90 meals a month and how much time they spend in active play are what is really important.

Creates a tough learning environment. It is not unreasonable to say having sugary snacks at a party could make some kids too hyper to learn. Teachers can easily solve that by having them right before recess or at the end of the day.

Inconveniencing teachers. This concern was raised in terms of parents bringing in ice cream and pies in need of refrigeration by teachers. But it sounds like some teachers don’t want the hassle of serving birthday treats. Instead, it seems at least some teachers want an overarching Arlington-wide policy to take the treats away from everyone else just so they don’t have to be the mean teacher who won’t allow treats in their classroom.

How about just setting a reasonable policy for your classroom and communicating it to parents? Mom, if you want ice cream in my class, you bring it 30 minutes before the end of the day and serve it. Or, no ice cream please, but I will be happy to pass out cookies or cupcakes 15 minutes before recess.

In short, instead of running to the school board to pass a policy, how about letting some common sense prevail and move on to more pressing issues facing our schools?

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