Be Informed!

The First Class Breakfast Program is being implemented in schools all over Houston. I am a very involved parent, but I have only one experience to share and one point of view. In an effort to share information and inform parents, I welcome comments and guest posts!

Forward this to all who might be interested. You need to be informed and aware of what is happening in your schools.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

So what do we do about it?

I have received a lot of emails from parents that don't want this program at their school becuase they don't want the lost class time and they don't want their kids eating the food.  These are all valid objections, but it won't keep the program out of your school. 

First, we must all realize that this program IS coming to your school if it isn't already there. No parent or principal has been able to prevent it (yet) and some schools have certainly tried. The best thing you can do as a parent is to work together, through the PTO or shared decision making committees at your school, talk with the Principal and HISD Food Services about alternatives to strict classroom delivery and see what else might make sense for your campus.  You have the opportunity to request the best delivery method of the breakfast that meets the needs of the students and the desires of the parents at their campus.

So here are some action items for you:

If you just don't want your child to eat breakfast at school, there are two options.
1. Kids can just say no thanks. Your child can simply not take a breakfast meal when it is delivered to the classroom. 
2. Parents can say no thanks. If an Opt-out form is not readily available at your school, write a letter to the Principal and your child's teacher to inform them that you do not want your child eating the breakfast that is being served.  Schools are dealing with this differently, so check with yours on the best way to handle this.

Teachers will have additional activities available for the kids who choose not to eat. It may be reading, journaling or doing other exercises, but there is generally something constructive that can be done during this period of time.

If you object to the lost class time, there are many opportunities to develop a program to deliver breakfast at your school that minimizes the impact on class time. The delivery method that is suggested by Food Services as being the fastest is not the least disruptive to the class. The fastest time they are referring to may be the actual delivery time at the door, it may refer to feeding the largest number of kids in the shortest amount of time, I'm not sure. The 10 minutes that was promised when the program was first introduced is really more like 20-30 depending on the grade level.

There are examples of other schools that are making breakfast available at the classroom, but the largest number of participating children are still eating in the cafeteria as has always worked for schools in the past. The model at Roberts Elementary is one that seems to be working well.  There are delivery models in other schools that I have heard of, but don't have a first hand description yet, so I can't really explain the logistics of them here. 

The point is to find out what is needed and desired by parents at your school and work with Food Services to make it happen.  Prior to the launch at your school a team from HISD Food Services will visit with your Principal and cafeteria staff to determine what your school needs and what will work best for your campus.  Don't hesitate to ask for alternatives if the classroom delivery of breakfast doesn't fit your needs.  Flexibility is an option!  Dr. Grier said in his statement on March 24 that "principals and teachers in each school have the complete freedom to design their program to meet the needs of students in their school".  There is no reason to believe otherwise.

A few days ago, I would have also suggested that you contact the representative for your district to let them know of your objections.  It won't affect the implementation at your school.  You can certainly still do that to let them know how you feel about the program so they may think twice and ask for more parental input before voting to implement something that has such a dramatic effect on our children's school day.  If you would still like to contact the HISD Board, all of their email addresses are listed here.

When it all comes down to it, the best thing you can do is to get involved at your school.  Know what is going on.  Join the PTO, talk to your teachers and administrators and most of all, the other parents.

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