I was saddened, but not surprised to learn that the William Floyd school
district is adding a drug treatment program to its high school.
Certainly, there has been a disturbing increase in addiction to opiates
among teens on
It is not that I am
opposed to students receiving drug treatment. It’s vital to our society’s
health that we reach young people with addictions and help them regain control
of their lives. But, I’m not sure
I want the William Floyd approach to become standard. The American school is now
our society’s foremost vehicle for addressing shortcomings and providing
services that ought to be available elsewhere. Addiction treatment should be
under the category of health care, not education. We teach kids not to use drugs
in health class. That’s our job. But, is it also our responsibility to cure
them of addictions?
My concern isn’t limited to this one service. I was paging through an
education magazine the other day and came upon an ad for something called
“Breakfast in the Classroom.” According to the Food Research and
When we are not making breakfast, we are preventing childhood obesity,
another problem that seems to me to be the domain of parents, not educators.
Again, health teachers and home and careers teachers instruct students on how to
eat properly. Michelle Obama’s initiative to promote healthy eating and
exercise for American kids is a program with goals no one can fault. In addition
to making cafeteria food healthier, our First Lady’s anti-obesity platform
also calls for encouraging new mothers to breastfeed since breastfed babies are
less likely to be overweight. However, I don’t see her demanding that offices
provide private areas for new mothers to pump breast milk with half the zeal she
expresses when it comes to getting the deep fryer out of the school cafeteria.
If American children are overweight and the American Heart Association estimates
that 30-40% of American children are obese, shouldn’t their parents change
what they feed them? Shouldn’t their parents teach them how to choose healthy
foods even when they are in the cafeteria? I have a friend who has taught her
kids to reject certain foods because they are “little balls of fat.” Surely
she is not the only person who can train her children to make healthy choices,
even when she is not there to supervise them.
Next, let’s consider online bullying and bullying in general. It is
wonderful that this issue has received more attention recently because all of us
can think of at least one or two heartbreaking stories from our own childhoods
in which the victim suffered and the bullies somehow got off the hook. However,
while schools are engaging speakers and implementing anti-bullying programs, is
anyone promoting a campaign to help parents avoid the behaviors likely to
produce a bully? In schools
everywhere, we provide strategies on how to respond to a bully, but where are
these bullies coming from, anyway? According to the United States Department of
Education, bullies grow up with “more family problems than usual; parents are
poor role models for getting along with others; parents are poor role models for
constructively solving problems; inconsistent discipline procedures at home;
parents often do not know child’s whereabouts’ [bullies] suffer physical and
emotional abuse at home.” While I certainly believe that no school should
tolerate bullying, I also believe that where bullies are concerned, the family
dynamic is more likely to produce a bully than the classroom dynamic. Yet, there
seems to be no movement to offer parents coping skills and insights in order not
to raise a child who is cruelly aggressive. Once again, bullying is---if not all
the school’s fault---at least all our responsibility.
This constant “mission creep” has the approval of Secretary of
Education Arne Duncan who wants to use schools as community centers for computer
literacy, health care, free meals and assorted other activities. Perhaps because
Arne Duncan comes from the city of
Being a parent is tough; supporting a family in this economy is tough.
But raising a good kid is a joyous and proud accomplishment and the utmost gift
to our society. Instead of making schools in
loco parentis in ways they never dreamed possible, we should make the
creation of conditions for excellent parenting a top priority. If children are
our future, our country has become remarkably shortsighted.
return to pct homepage