Last December, the HISD School Board voted to implement a program that had been piloted in a few schools over the last couple of years. It is called First Class Breakfast and is an attempt to provide a free breakfast to every student in Elementary and Middle Schools in HISD.
Breakfast was already offered for free to every student and was available in the cafeteria before school. The First Class Program moves this free breakfast from the cafeteria to the classroom and isn't served until the school day starts. Hot and Cold carts are loaded with "meals" and rolled down the hall to each classroom, where the student lines up at the door and exchanges their "card" for a hot breakfast served with 1% milk and juice. They return to their desk, eat breakfast and then throw away all the leftovers. HISD has said this process should only take 10 minutes. Actual implementation doesn't show the same results.
There are many arguments FOR this program. Dr. Grier and the school board are fully behind it. See his statement from March 24, 2010. Basically, kids pay more attention and get better grades when they aren't hungry. It is described as a program that is optional to students who want to participate. But the truth is that by moving it to the classroom, it becomes and optional program that all students are forced to participate in by having to sit by and watch their classmates eat if they choose not to partake of the breakfast.
As many arguments as there may be for it, there are 2-3 AGAINST it.
1. Questions about nutritional value
2. Lack of proper food groups being served
3. Mess in the classroom
4. Breakfast is already available for free - why change it
5. What do the kids who already eat at home do? Eat twice?
6. There is no way it takes only 10 minutes
7. Availability of staff - after the much publicizes budget shortfalls and cutting of hours
8. LOST INSTRUCTIONAL TIME
There may be a need FOR this program for some students and some schools, but is this really a district wide issue? The decision was made very quietly at the end of 2009. Very little parent input was solicited or encouraged. The administration implemented the program and as soon as a few parents started learning what was going on and complaining, it was placed in the hands of principals to implement on their campuses to best meet the needs of their school. Principals may or may not support this, but we are all stuck with it. . . for now. If there is enough parental involvment and objection, we may have a chance of significantly changing the way this program looks. But until more people know about it, 10 schools will be added to the First Class Breakfast program every 2 weeks until all the Fall when all schools will have it in place.
Share this information with your friends at your school, at other schools, past students or parents of past students. Opposition will need to come from all over Houston to be able to change this, so let's get started if you want something different than what is coming your way.