Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Who needs breakfast? I got math to do.

Last week, WBEZ's Schools on the Line with Jean-Claude Brizard had an unusual twist: the CEO of Chicago Public Schools would answer questions only from the kids. The Boy, The Girl, and I tuned in to hear what their peers would say. There were the expected parent-fed questions and complaints about the proposed longer school day, some awesome questions about selective enrollment high schools from current SEHS students themselves, and a particularly hairy question about the turnaround process from a Dyet student. Unfortunately for The Boy, they never got to his question on the line. 

I was genuinely surprised when The Boy said he wanted to call in. My kids generally groan when I mention any one of my pet causes, including the schools, education in general, their school, and various initiatives to benefit their school. The Boy told me his question before dialing in. And its content surprised me even more: why does his class have to have breakfast in the classroom (BIC)? 

When the BIC program launched at Disney II in the fall of 2009 (yes, it's always been a pioneer), The Boy was nonplussed by an extra breakfast/morning snack. I was irritated with CPS's paternalistic attitude and the stripping of what I feel is one of my parental rights: deciding what to feed my children. Fast forward a year when CPS rolled out BIC districtwide and the debate began anew in fall 2010. Both The Boy and The Girl were unbothered by BIC. Sometimes they ate it, sometimes they didn't, they said. They also reported that it was just another part of their day. And I let it go. 

Now, as it turns out, The Boy is annoyed for  BIC for reasons that have everything to do with learning. He told the WBEZ operator that he doesn't like BIC because it cuts into his math class.

I find this admission amazing for a number of reasons -- some to do with The Boy's personality and some to do with my own perceptions of what his school day is like. What I find most amazing is that a kid who spends 7.5 hours each day at school is so excited about learning that he wants to eliminate the minutiae to get to the learning faster. I mean this is a kid that I had to cleave off my leg every morning for the first six weeks of his kindergarten year. 

Certainly, this story that The Boy can be somewhat fickle in his opinions. He's not the only one--history is rife with such "flip-flops" to use modern political parlance. And I'm not suggesting that we should base policy or practice on the opinion of one child. (This is also why, in my opinion, we should not use student feedback or classroom performance in teacher evaluations.) However, that The Boy changed his mind on BIC (as he did on a 7.5-hour day) is progress for his own little person, about whom few would use the word "flexible."

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