Michelle Obama’s public school disaster
First Lady Michelle Obama is running a campaign against childhood obesity called “Let’s Move!” In a bit of grim irony, the implementation of this program has been a teachable moment in Big Government stasis and ruling-class arrogance.
A fifth-grade teacher named Leah Putnam wrote an account of the “Let’s Move!” ordeal at a forum for Chicago public school teachers – posted, I gather, by a different blog author, who professes themselves an admirer of Mrs. Obama but nevertheless agrees that “the treatment of school children by people who should know better is really appalling.”
If you are a parent, imagine that you take your child on a trip and they are very excited. Now imagine they have to wait on a bus and stand in straight lines for three hours straight. Then imagine after one hour of “fun” that they have to sit around and wait for three more hours that bus to pick them up. Oh, did I mention that are not allowed to have a morsel of food the entire time? Now, multiply that by 25 to 35. Sounds fun right?! That’s a little bit what the day was like for CPS students, parents and teachers at the Let’s Move! Campaign.
When offered the chance to participate in the Let’s Move! campaign, I thought it would be a lot of fun and jumped at the chance. After all, my students have been working very hard to prepare for next week’s ISAT test and deserved a to let loose a little. Had I known what this event entailed, I would have definitely taken a pass.
(Emphasis mine.) Well, that’s one way to battle childhood obesity: park the kids in a bureaucratic gulag and starve them.
Putnam elaborates at great length on this grim slog through the program, which featured inefficient public transportation, extra-large adult T-shirts dispensed to young children, crony capitalist product placement, a dreary group exercise program inflicted on hungry children two hours past lunchtime, and interminable waiting. Not only were children marched through all this, but Ms. Putnam relates that her pregnant co-worker was “dehydrated and hadn’t eaten in 10 hours” by the time they escaped.
“This event was clearly not about the children, because their needs were not put first,” Putnam concludes, wandering so far off the political reservation that she runs the risk of encountering Bob Woodward in the wild. “Politics and big business before children; was this event an eerie foreshadowing of what is to come for education in Chicago?”
I’m tempted to conclude with a simple “yes,” or perhaps a saucy Bruce Willis quote: “Welcome to the party, pal.” But really, this sort of thing is entirely typical of Big Government bureaucracy, and it really should be presented to children and adults alike as a teachable moment. The further authority is removed from the people who suffer beneath it, the more likely that common sense will be abandoned, and people will find themselves treated like rats in a maze. (No one involved in planning this disaster realized what the interminable waiting and deprivation inflicted on the young participants would do to them? Really?) If Ms. Putnam and her associates were given a modest budget and tasked with designing a weekend program to get their students excited about exercise and proper diet, they almost certainly would have come up with something far more fun and productive than this Kafkaesque nightmare.
Come to think of it, is it too early to introduce these kids to Kafka, Orwell, and Huxley? That would be a way to build off this experience and prepare them for life under ObamaCare and other bureaucratic horrors. They signed up for a crusade against childhood obesity, but instead they received a useful lesson in one of the education establishment’s previous obsessions: bullying.