School after school are overstepping their bounds, interfering in people’s personal lives and liberties, practicing the dark art of behalfism.
Behalfism is when a small vocal group tries to speak on behalf of another group that really doesn’t want or need it.
In this case, schools are canceling their bake sale fund raisers, because administrators are concerned about childhood obesity. According to a recent story on National Public Radio, schools are so concerned about childhood obesity, they think that if they can cancel their once-a-year bake sale, they can somehow overcome it. In fact, schools in California, Texas, and New York are limiting bake sales to only healthy food.
Because if there’s one thing parents want to buy to help their child’s school, it’s a low-fat vinaigrette salad and organic gluten-free organic soy milk muffins. With raisins.
Before I go on, let me say that I recognize the seriousness of childhood obesity. I’m not “for” it, or arguing that it’s not a problem. I believe kids should go outside and play, not eat junk food, and limit their TV and video game time. So I believe it’s serious.
But I don’t think one bake sale a year, where parents will buy one cake or one plate of cookies, is going to result in obese children.
What I do object to is when the very group of of people that cancel a bake sale to keep kids from getting fat also cut PE classes and recess, which also kept kids from getting fat. While most schools still have PE classes and recess, many of them are reducing the amount of time they last, and are not allowing kids to ride their bikes or walk to and from school.
When I was a kid, we had two recesses a day, PE class two to three times a week, and I rode or walked to school nearly every day. There were no rules about riding or walking (not like the schools where I live), gym was considered an important part of our education, and we played outside without any rules against running or playing certain types of games.
It’s rather disingenuous of a school to cancel a bake sale in the name of childhood obesity, when they also eliminated and overturned the opportunities for the kids to get exercise.
“Oh, but the kids can exercise at home,” say the childhood obesity behalfists. “The parents should be encouraging their kids to play and get exercise.”
Yes, they should. They should also be the ones to tell their kids not to eat an entire cake or plateful of cookies. The schools either need to butt completely out of kids’ personal lives, or they need to be completely involved. They can’t pick and choose based on the hot button issue of the day.
When you look at the number of times parents take their kids to McDonald’s, let them play video games for three hours a day, and don’t let them play organized sports because they’re worried their precious snowflakes might get hurt, I don’t think an extra piece of cake is going to do much harm. It’s a veritable drop in the lard bucket, and they’ll be no worse off than they were beforehand.
On the other hand, the kids whose parents actually make them eat healthy food and play can afford to let their kids have a once-in-a-while dessert, even if said dessert is not made with wheat germ, low-fat yogurt, and carob.
What makes matters worse is that these bake sales are a direct benefit to the schools that sponsor them. According to the NPR story, a school in Maryland was able to generate $25,000 in sales, while a New York mom usually raised $50,000 through bake sales.
That’s enough to pay a PE teacher’s salary to get all the fat kids outside running around for 30 minutes a day to work off the piece of cake and the Big Mac they had at dinner the night before.
If a school wants to get involved in whole child growth and development, which is the argument for sticking their fingers in their students’ pies, then they need to do two things: 1) teach the kids that dessert, like anything else, should be consumed in moderation; and, 2) they should use the money raised from a proper bake sale to fund more physical activities, which will teach the kids physical wellness.
Until then, school officials need to find a new way to raise the lost funds. Maybe a casino night with a cash bar.
Photo credit: tannazie (Flickr, Creative Commons)