This morning I belatedly opened an email from my son’s middle school, which last week asked parents to donate items for “treat bags” for the 6th graders taking our district’s standardized tests.
Here’s what volunteers were asked to bring: Goldfish, Blow Pops, peppermint candies, Hershey’s kisses, bite-size Snickers, 100-calorie packs of cookies, Starburst candies, clementines and cheese sticks. (Hmm. What do you think the ratio of clementine-to-Blow-Pop-consumption will be among most sixth graders?)
Although the email wasn’t clear about the purpose, I’m pretty sure these treat bags are being handed out not so much to reward kids for taking the test as to make sure they’re awake for the test itself. I’m inferring this from the fact that peppermint candies are included in the bags; you might remember that one of the events that led me to pound out my “Food-in-the-Classroom” manifesto in 2012 was my son’s elementary school giving every kid peppermint candies and juice pouches on standardized testing days based on a theory that peppermint makes kids more alert for exams.
People, everything about this episode saddens me: That public schools now live or die based on standardized test results, so they will do anything to boost scores. That kids are being taught that when they need to be at peak mental performance, they should load up mostly on refined sugar. Or, if I’ve misinterpreted what’s going on here and these bags really are an after-test “treat,” that we’re using not just food as a reward (already considered a bad idea by leading medical organizations) but the worst junk food to boot.
Does your public school hand out food on standardized testing days? Are the offerings in line with my son’s middle school’s? Let me know what’s going on at your school in a comment below.
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