Why Republicans Like Cookies: The Danger of Blind Hypocrisy



Why Republicans Like Cookies:
The Danger of Blind Hypocrisy 





Powerful images are conjured up by the following news story by Todd Starns of Fox News.


School Bans Cookies, Candy, and Cake

"Some parents are calling school officials in Colorado 'food Nazis' after they announced a ban on all sweets, including cupcakes, candy bars and even birthday cakes – unless the cakes are made with district-approved recipes.

School officials in Greeley, CO advised parents that new federal guidelines require all food served on grade school campuses to adhere to strict calorie counts.

That means no more sweet treats like cake at birthday parties or class holiday parties – unless the cake is made with a recipe approved by the school district.

Anita Colwell’s nine year old daughter is a fourth grader at Scott Elementary School. She said her daughter refuses to eat the cafeteria food.

'They’re dictating what I can send with my child for lunch – what I can give them for a treat at a school party,' she said. “I don’t believe that’s right. It’s my child. I should be able to feed them whatever I want. They’re not raising my child. They’re not paying for their orthodontic bills. They’re not tucking them in at night telling them they love them. But yet they’re telling me what I can and can’t feed my child?'

She said school officials are acting like 'food Nazis.'
'This is how it starts,' she said. 'The government is sticking their nose where they don’t exactly belong.'"




My Thoughts


After the story broke news and commentary shows invited pundits and public opinion to oppose the "food Nazis".  The majority of opposition I saw came from Republicans concerned that the ban was another example of government gone wild.  This is a conundrum for Republicans and conservatives.  How can you simultaneously want limited and local government, yet oppose it when a local school board--elected by the people--sets a policy?

The problem with most shows is their self-imposed time constraints that limit detail and depth into events.  Have you ever seen their responses on these shows when time becomes an issue?  Then hosts of these shows blame commercial breaks and the quick attention span of the audience.  As if stories cannot be picked up after a commercial break and as if the same audience that sits through hours of sports games is unable to pay attention to a story longer than thirty seconds.

Had these hosts and reporters dug a little deeper we would have found the root cause of this ban.  Teachers, social workers, nurses, doctors, and politicians are beyond frustrated dealing with the daily pressures and strains of their jobs.  In the corporate and business world customers causing trouble,  stealing, interfering with work, etc. can and do get kicked out.  Once they are ushered out the manager, owner, and employees are relieved of that stressful person.  In the fields of education, medicine, and government, the "customers" are permanent.  Teachers are not able to hand-select their own students, social workers, nurses and doctors have to treat everyone, and politicians have a duty to all of their fellow citizens.

When Republicans blame poor test scores on teachers for example, that causes a chain reaction.  This places more pressure on the education system on top of the standards, expectations, rules, and challenges already in existence.  The thoughtless and/or strident disregard for other factors affecting student learning, patient health and wellness, or communities is a pattern in the current Republican and conservative movement.  This is the same party of individuals that has great concern for the influences of pop culture, media, drugs, divorce, and violence.

Yet, Republicans and conservatives do not connect the dots between school performance and these things.  They are willing though to beat the drum of performance pay.  Somehow there is a defiance and outright resistance on the part of Republicans and conservatives to admit they are right on the culture war.  Pop culture, media, drugs, divorce, and violence do affect children.  All the bonus money in the world for teachers though will not fix that circumstance.

Teachers, social workers, nurses, doctors, and politicians are not able to turn away their "customers".  As each year and decade pass by standards, expectations, and rules change on these fields in order to "improve the crisis".  Professionals in these fields are then called into meetings by their administrators.  In these meetings their bosses tell them what to do, give them training on the latest "strategies" (fads), and they are asked to brainstorm other solutions.  Diet is a factor in student learning and it is not a big leap to see how in a school bureaucracy banning certain foods is proposed.

Will banning cookies and cupcakes from classroom parties end the challenges in education?  No, we all can agree on that.  Rather than seeing the ban as a Nazi act, we need to see it as a reaction in an absurd situation.  Rather than complaining about a food ban, rather than complaining about government overreach, rather that demanding the government get out of my personal business, Republicans and conservatives need to drop their expectations.  Having expectations is a dangerous game.  Instead of spending oodles of time bashing food bans, bashing teachers, and roaring over the culture wars, Republicans and conservatives need to act.

Feed your children well and they will not be overweight, give your children tools and teach them right from wrong and they will know how to deal with pop culture, media and drugs.  Choose a good spouse and show your children a good marriage and you will help society at large.  That is much better, although harder, than having absurd expectations on teachers, placing ever greater demands on them, and then complaining about the outcome.  I guess eating cookies, candy, and cake is more appetizing than facing reality.  

Why is this cycle of culture wars and political ping pong hard to break?  It is not easy for politicians to negatively criticize the same people they wish to get votes from for election.  That goes for presidents, school board members, state assemblymen, ministers, and others.  It is far easier to blame state test results on too many bad teachers than to hold up a mirror to society.  The next time you hear a politician, TV host, or radio personality blame the state of education on too many bad teachers, ask them for their statistics, their proof, the numbers.  Yes, there are a few teachers that do not belong in teaching.  The story does not end there.  If you want to keep cake in your classrooms, then focus on the following learning factors.

Government testing is often not designed to test a non-English speaking population, that is highly transient, and from families with parents that have little education themselves.  The current California State Test would be suitable to measure the student population of California in 1985, it is not suitable for the population in schools  since 1985.  Finland’s education system has consistently ranked among the best in the world for more than a decade, making it the envy of every education reformer.

In Finland there are no standardized tests.  In fact, there is really very little testing at all. Finnish teachers are not monitored or rated based on test scores, and teachers (as well as their students) have a great deal of autonomy. It is a system built on trust, and the film really drives home the notion that trust – rather than faux accountability – leads to real results, leads to teachers and students and members of government all wanting to live up to the trust given to them rather than simply scraping by.

Parental aspirations for their children has a larger impact on student learning than feedback from teachers, study skills, homework, testing, and teacher education.

School

Self-reported grades: students predict their performance  1.44
Reinforcement 1.13
Instructional quality 1.00
Testing .30
Teacher Education 0.11

Student

Students prior cognitive ability 1.04
Students disposition to learn .61

Home influences

Parental aspirations for children’s educational achievement .80
Home factors .67
Home environment (socio-psychological) .57
Parent involvement .46
Transiency/mobility -0.34 (that is a negative)

Social influences

Peer .38
Television -.12 (that is a negative)






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Credits:  Image courtesy of [everydayplus] at FreeDigitalPhotos.net, andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com/2011/05/trust-for-teachers.html, Professor John Hattie, foto76

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