Saturday, November 30, 2013

Going In Circles?

Fort River School historic East Amherst Village

So maybe school officials should simultaneously teach history by having the kids sing "Marching through Georgia" or  -- to be fair and balanced -- "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" while traipsing around the school on these brisk mornings coming up. 

Or let the lead kid carry a Chinese flag. 

 Fort River School Monday 8:35 AM

Email sent to parents November 18th

Dear Families and Guardians,
At Fort River Elementary School, we will implement a before school walking program, beginning December 2nd (the Monday after Thanksgiving).  This is a successful program at Wildwood, and we are modeling our system after theirs (thanks, Wildwood!).
This program is designed to provide an effective and safe method of increasing physical activity by taking advantage of time not in use for academics.  Currently, our students arrive between 8:30 & 8:45 and have 3 choices:  eat breakfast in the 1st cafeteria, socialize in the 2nd cafeteria, or socialize in the gymnasium.  We seek to change this morning supervised time to offer more productivity for the students.   
This program, to be implemented at Fort River Elementary School, will hopefully allow for two things to occur:
  1. Increase academic engagement and success.  School aged children who started their morning off with vigorous physical activity while waiting for classes to start showed results of improved focus and attentiveness, and decreased overall behavioral problems (Quick, 2008).
  2. Improve overall health of our students.  An increase in physical activity will be used to aid in the battle of childhood obesity and support students to develop a routine for daily exercise.
Students who need to eat breakfast will still come in the building after 8:30 and have a supervised meal in the cafeteria.  All other students will drop off items in the lobby (if necessary) and go back outside to begin walking around our building, supervised by adults stationed outside.  We will follow the guidelines set forth by the district regarding outside activities in relation to cold weather, and offer an inside walk on days that are too extreme.  All students will conclude their walk at 8:45 so that they may begin class at 8:50.
We anticipate that the students will need support for this transition, so we will have many adults on hand outside as we begin implementation (and continued supervision as the program proceeds).  We will also discuss this with them in class in the days ahead so that they may ask questions and be prepared to begin!   Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns. 
Fort River Administration


Anonymous said...

I am a Fort River parent and I am vehemently opposed to the mandatory nature of this program. If they want to make it an option for kids then fine. But to force all kids into this smacks of a totalitarian regime.
The elementary day is packed to the gills already. Why does the Fort River principal think she needs to pack another mandatory thing in the first 15 minutes. How about the poor kids who walk to school. On a child morning I can imagine they would look forward to going into a nice warm school building. But no, they will be forced to walk aimlessly around their school building.
Another ridiculous top down mandate from the administrators. I have told my child they can walk if they want to but any morning they do not want to walk they can go have breakfast instead. Hope the cafeteria begins laying in extra supplies for breakfast from now on.

Anonymous said...

"Or let the lead kid carry a Chinese flag."


Walter Graff said...

You couldn't make up a more silly scenario in a publication like the Onion.

Amherst paid over $100k last year to have people stand in the hallways and calculate how many seconds are wasted in a day. The conclusion was the loss of early Wednesday dismissal. The consequence was the faculty now has to do morning meetings that go directly into teaching. Teachers now have to buffer the first hour of school as kids are out of control when the school day begins. Problem with the morning meetings is there are no staff to monitor the millions of kids running a muck in the school. Paras aren't allowed to be babysitters pre-school meaning how do you control a school of kids that can't be effectively left in the school unsupervised before 8:50.

Whats the best thing to do? Make the kids march around the school taking care of two things. First poop the kids out so that by the time school starts they will be tired. Result, doesn't work. And if you keep the kids outside marching around the school you need less supervision and you don't have kids running around in the school before they are permitted to enter.

In Germany they called it Wehrsport (military athletics). Next they will be offering bayonet drill, grenade throwing, trench digging, map reading, gas defence, use of dugouts, how to get under barbed wire and pistol shooting.

Siting some obscure published paper that states exercise before school will make your kid smarter makes it all okay though. Next Michelle Obama will be visiting the school to say the lunches kids eat are all wrong and kids should be eating no more than 600 calories for lunch a day, sans peanut butter of course.

And don't forget the free soy butter handout the school gave everyone with the note that they don't support any company that makes any product they are handing out. Maybe they can hand out coupons next.

Oh, in case you didn't know soy is about one of the WORST things you could be feeding your child (and you too). Yeah I know the myths and all about how it makes Asians live longer, blah, blah, blah. How about the real science.

Soy contains high levels of phytic acid which reduce assimilation of calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc. High phytate diets have caused growth problems in children.

Trypsin inhibitors in soy interfere with protein digestion and may cause pancreatic disorders.

Soy phytoestrogens disrupt endocrine function and cause all sorts of serious issues in the body, namely breast cancer in women. Soy proteins mimic hormones in your body causing a multitude of issues.

Soy phytoestrogens are potent antithyroid agents that cause hypothyroidism and may cause thyroid cancer. In infants, consumption of soy formula has been linked to autoimmune thyroid disease.

Vitamin B12 analogs in soy are not absorbed and actually increase the body's requirement for B12.

Soy foods dramatically increase the body's requirement for vitamin D.

Processing of soy protein in such things as soy butters results in the formation of toxic lysinoalanine and highly carcinogenic nitrosamines.

Processed soy foods contain high levels of aluminum which is toxic to the nervous system and the kidneys.

Thanks for the soy hand-outs. Our kids can be "healthy" marching around the school then eat soy butters and die from cancers and the like. It all balances out.

Nate Hawthorne said...

I'm not sure if a walking program is the right solution but daily physical activity to start the school day has been proven to improve academic performance and will benefit the students in other ways as well. All schools k-12 should start the day with group exercise. Learning good habits early in life would have a profound effect. The obesity epidemic is evidence that kids just don't get enough physical activity these days. Lets approach this with an open mind and see what the effects are before making judgment.

Dr. Ed said...

Children who need to eat breakfast -- because their parents didn't feed them -- get to sit in a nice warm cafeteria and have an enjoyable meal with their friends while those parents responsible enough to feed their children are forced outside to circle the building.

What happens to the student who just stands there and doesn't walk? Perhaps cites the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution like I would have (and once did). Or -- more likely, very carefully arranges to be at the most distant point from the door when the forced exile ends -- and walks very slowly to the door, so as to be late.

Better yet, pretends to be injured. Then what Maria?!?!?!?

Anonymous said...

Why is walking vigorous exercise? Why not let the kids run around and play on the playground? Why not ask the kids wht they'd like to do?

Dr. Ed said...

And how long will it be before a 5th or 6th grader, resentful that she is outside while Maria & Jose are inside eating breakfast, calls in a bomb scare on a $10 throw-away Tracfone?

Even more likely, lots of children are going to want to eat the school breakfast and not that of their parents -- and this is inevitably going to be the conversation in most households:

Parent: Eat your breakfast.

Child: I don't want to.

Parent: Your father & I work a lot of hours to pay for that breakfast and you will eat it.

Child: I don't want to -- Jose & Maria get to eat at school -- I want to as well.

Parent then says any number of racist and/or otherwise offensive things about single mothers, persons born in other countries and recipients of public assistance in general.

And even if the parent doesn't do this, the bright child will understand that she is being punished because her parents actually work for a living.

It's going to become an "us versus them" schism on economic lines which do (to some extent) also follow race -- not unlike the infamous 1986 World Series Race Riot (RedSox White, Mets Black) -- and I wonder if any of Team Maria understand that this will very quickly lead to some very serious racial issues in their little school....

Or is that the intent???

Anonymous said...

They've had (mandatory) gym class since my grandfather's day. Why is this a big deal, or even any different ?

Anonymous said...

fat children are is science. please no more fatties.

Anonymous said...

Ed, you racist; classiest fool. It is not only Latino, black or poor kids who eat breakfast at school. My kids are white and I work 40 hours a week and sometimes my kids eat breakfast at school because they like it. I imagine they will be eating breakfast at school no more often, especially during the cold winter months.
Also; this edict did not come from Maria Geryk. It came from the Fort River principal.

Anonymous said...

Why not the playground?

That's what we did back in the 60s (and our playground was just an area of blacktop)

Their insatiable addiction to your money said...

Oh please people, "the district" is simply preparing next generation school employees for what inevitably happens when one threatens the regime by openly voicing concerns about it.

I mean, if they know about walking already, h.r. might not have to, you know, "motivate" trouble makers the expensive way...

(if you catch my $$$ -----> drift)

Anonymous said...

In South Hadley when the kids arrive at school they have the option of playing on the playground. Why can't that be done in Amherst?
I am so fed up with these top down edicts. I am going to spend the rest of this school year exploring other schooling options for my child.

Dr. Ed said...

They've had (mandatory) gym class since my grandfather's day. Why is this a big deal, or even any different ?

Because Physical Education is supposed to be educationally sound. Exactly what is the rationale here -- beyond creating a hatred of walking? Beyond creating yet another generation that demands a parking space right next to where they are going...

Are they teaching any stretching exercises, or anything physical? Or are they helping facilitate the development of social skills or any of that stuff?


This really is nothing but fascism -- the fascist staff doesn't want children "socializing with their friends" -- what they are doing now, so they intend to prevent it.

P*ssed-off kids tend not to learn so well. I'm sure this outweighs any benefit from the exercise.

Anonymous said...

Over the years, the administration has made a list of all the things they hated when they were in school and implemented them for our kids.

Why do the Amherst Schools need to be such a punishing environment???

Anonymous said...

What a bunch of whiners! They implement an exercise program and still you complain. Give me a break.

Anonymous said...

"Are they teaching any stretching exercises, or anything physical? Or are they helping facilitate the development of social skills or any of that stuff?"

yes, actually. they are teaching to perform physical activities as a matter of health and a life philosophy to develop a routine to stay fit and stray from obesity.

As far as social skills, I don't see where it says they need to walk in silence. I see many adults walking with friends and it seems like a great social environment for them (if you're into that)

For stretching, can't we count on the kids to use the knowledge they've learned from their phys ed classes to perform necessary stretches. I mean, stretching's not too difficult to perform. And how much do you really need to stretch for a fifteen walk?

And how are you so racist about this, Ed? That came out of nowhere.

Dr. Ed said...

I think it is quite clear how they will respond to anyone who questions the wisdom of this program.

Oh, wait, that's how they respond to all questions about anything.

Anonymous said...

Is this Wildwood's program? (A recess choice!)
Thanks to the organizational efforts of Jen Mendelsohn, our Hour Power Volunteer
Coordinator, Wildwood students in grades 3-6 now have the opportunity to participate in a
Mileage Club at Recess Time. Elizabeth Fernandez O’Brien, our PE teacher marked off a
quarter mile ‘track’ for children to walk or run around. Every time children complete a
quarter mile a star is punched on their five mile ‘foot’ card. When they complete twenty
quarter-mile laps they get a five mile foot marker on a bracelet to wear. As a school we are
‘walking’ first to New York City, then on to Chicago, Denver and San Francisco. Over
eighty students are participating and we have already walked more than one hundred miles!

Larry Kelley said...

Wildwood has 432 students. So that's less than 20% who seem excited about the program.

Anonymous said...

Fort River also already has the same VOLUNTARY walking program. My child has several feet on her bracelet.
This new MANDATORY walking regime is different. Again, it's the mandatory nature of the program that I object to.

Anonymous said...

The administration, whichever one that is, is grasping at anything to improve student performance. Change start time, get the kids moving, etc. There is something new in the district every 2 months or so. Some in the ES, some in MS, some in HS. We never hear about the positive impact of any of. Not a word. The administration is a joke. They read studies, but don't actually measure anything they do. It is perfect. They say to all of us, "see the wonderful changes we are making". Then when everyone forgets about it they trash it and start a new program.

There is clearly no one with any brains steering the ship. If anyone had any idea what to do to really improve education they have been run out of town or suppressed.

The wealthy parents get tutors, kumon, or private school. those who can't just struggle through it all.

So for now, tell your kids to enjoy their morning walks or breakfast. No one in the administration gives a @*^*, what any of us think. They just want us to fall in line and shut the *^*% up.

Lets face it the alternative is just a waste of time anyway.

Dr. Ed said...

Fort River also already has the same VOLUNTARY walking program...
This new MANDATORY walking regime is different. Again, it's the mandatory nature of the program that I object to.

I concur.

There is a very big difference between offering something to a child and the fascist jack-booted approach being employed here. Amongst other things, one approach will make a child want to exercise while the Fort River approach is going to make them detest walking and avoid it wherever & whenever possible.

Anonymous said...

Wildwood has two programs: the optional recess club, which seems to be great for kids who love to run and/or dislike the usual recess activities, and the mandatory before-school walking-in-a-circle program.