Meghan Hanson-Peters: Value our students and teachers
May 8, 2017
It is with disappointment that I watch the antics of our federal government unfold at the expense of our nation's students and teachers.
The proclamation issued to dilute components of the 2010 Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act by Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue the same week that the White House held an awkward event at which our states’ Teachers of the Year were barely honored by the President underscores the obvious disdain with which the Executive Branch regards the people, both learners and educators, who are both vital to and reliant on our public education system.
For many students, the balanced meal they get at school is their only guaranteed healthy meal of the day. To deny them assurance of a quality, nourishing meal on the premise that the food often gets wasted is to misplace blame: the astounding amount of wasted food in this country is by no means the sole burden of K-12 students comprising less that 15 percent of the American populace.
Moreover, assuming that children, even young adults, can always make reasoned, healthy choices about their meals is presumptuous as well. Given what we know about the frontal lobe of the brain and its maturity rate, it is likely that even the most well-trained child will impulsively make less-than-healthy meal choices. Mr. Perdue would send a stronger message that all children were valued if he assured that the 2010 legislation remained intact and robust.
For the educators invited to the White House last week, being named as their state's Teacher of the Year was likely one of the highest accolades they'd received professionally thus far.
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To deny them a more formal recognition with their families as past Chiefs of State have done was a missed opportunity. The 55 teachers who work with some of our nation's most vulnerable, had they been allowed to speak, could have shared stories that, perhaps, would have moved the president to better understand the critical role of public education in so many lives. The president would send a stronger message that educators are valued if he would invite them into a conversation and listen to what they have to say.
Both locally and nationally, schools celebrated Teacher Appreciation Week last week, and educators around the country acknowledged that they'd be nothing without their students. When people feel valued, amazing things happen.
Students learn and teachers inspire. Mr. Perdue should reverse his action, and Mr. President ought to lament his inaction.