Outrage About Teachers' Breakfast Program Grievance
Tuesday, January 29, 2013 • 8:51am
We were outraged at the article in the NorthJersey.Com/News on Wednesday, January 23, 2013. Parent Education Organizing Council (PEOC) is a group of public school parents and community leaders from urban and low-income school districts that have come together to work and fight for improvements in the education system. We have taken on the Breakfast After The Bell Campaign because we believe that every child deserves to have a good start to their day with so many obstacles that they have to face. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
The latest data show that roughly 15,000 children are going without a healthy breakfast. Starting the day off with a good and healthy breakfast can make all the difference in a child getting a quality education. 20,879 Paterson children are eligible for free/reduced breakfast, 86% are enrolled, 27% are served and 15,188 are not served, the possible federal reimbursement would be 4,994,802.
After reading the article about the Pilot Program drawing protest from teachers I am appalled. I realize that the teachers are working without a contract and I sympathized with them but not at the expense of the children. To file a grievance instead of implementing the breakfast after the bell program is beyond belief. So I ask the question is this worth giving up $2,000?
At the Forging Fresh Ways to Serve School Breakfast Summit, held at Camden County Community College, school officials learned that serving “breakfast after the bell” is the best way to boost New Jersey’s low participation in the federal school breakfast program. While many New Jersey districts continue to serve breakfast before school – when children have not yet arrived – a growing number of districts are adopting this more effective model.
In a companion report on school breakfast in urban areas, Newark again earned the #1 rank for its high student participation. Newark is the only large urban New Jersey district to serve breakfast in the classroom to all of its students. Cecile Zalkind of ACNJ said “Other large urban districts, especially Jersey City and Paterson, should follow Newark’s lead. In these districts alone, tens of thousands of children are missing out on a healthy morning meal that can help them succeed in school.”
In January 2012, the State Departments of Education and Agriculture issued a joint memorandum that encourages districts to implement breakfast aft the bell. In that memo Education Commissioner Cerf said that this time after the bell rings can be counted as instructional time. There would be no lost to a child and no additional time would be required by teachers. The only loss would be to teachers who currently come in early and get paid for the extra time
Yes Paterson Public Schools have breakfast before the bell but we already know it’s NOT working. If it was working more children would be eating breakfast, more money would be coming into the district since this is a federal funded program reimbursable according to the number of children that qualify for free and reduced lunch. The Breakfast After the Bell program would ensure that EVERY child regardless of status get to eat a nutritious breakfast instead of the soda, empanada and chips in the morning. Then we wonder why the sugar rushes and then the crashes.
Change is necessary. Sometimes it can be painful especially when something has been done the same way for so long. No longer can we sit back and say it doesn’t involve me or my child but we all have to care. Stop saying it takes a village to raise a child when you are only concerned for you and yours. Let’s take the village approach and come together, parents, schools, and community members, elected officials so that this program can go forward. Stop holding our children hostage and let’s make it happen.
Parent Leader (PEOC)