No Child Left Untested
It had been suggested that our government should test America's children to death, give them the option of crap food alongside already marginally nutritious food, and give states the option of (read: not the money for) providing physical education programs. Naysayers said it would strip teaching of creativity, result in test failures across the board, and fatten up the younguns.
Those who designed and supported No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and the lunch menus said, "You're wrong." They promised a lot of money to support the new mandates, delivered on a bit, and the dismay has come to pass. America's children are getting fatter and they aren't NCLB-standards smart.
Those manning the front lines of children's ever-expanding waist lines say NCLB's demands and lack of promised funding have drained schools of the resources they need to provide physical education and schedule physical activity. Additionally, the older a student gets, the less likely they are to be provided with a school-sponsored physical activity.
Physical education is not the only program to suffer. Resources have been pulled from social studies, science, and the arts so reading and math programs have all the resources they need to keep in line with the law. "What our data is showing is that there is a cut [in time devoted to physical education], it just isn't as large as academic subjects," said Center on Public Education (CPE) president Jack Jennings.
Warm Fuzzies for everyone, it's on Jack.
Seeming improvements mask the ongoing struggle of school lunch programs to keep up with guidelines without enough funding and they are having a difficult time providing nutritious foods even when the money is available. “The reality is that the food industry is incapable of changing as fast as that group wanted things done,” said Ben Matthews, director of school support at the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. “It takes the food industry a minimum of one year — but sometimes two to three years — to change processes.”
Christina Dodd, child nutrition director at Henderson County, North Carolina Schools suggests a menu of hamburgers, salads, fruits, various vegetables, and side items constitutes having served a balanced meal. Offered is not the same as served, Ms Dodd. Many school nutrition directors, and parents, believe that offering children both healthy and unhealthy options will prompt them to make the healthier choice. When they don't, they cite the child's decision to eat poorly rather than take responsibility for having provided a poor choice as an option. "Well," Dodd says, "a lot of students only want to eat the hamburger.”