A mom from Atlanta is raising cane at her children’s school in New York City about the junk food they are being served.
What do you want to talk about tomorrow?
Total Voters: 5
Here’s the full story from The New York Times.
The debate of whether schools should allow parents to send in cupcakes and other treats for birthdays and holidays isn’t a new one to this blog. We have talked about it many times. (December of 2006 — Cupcake Controversy: Tasty treat or Evil?) And we can talk about it more today if you want.
But what interests me more about this story is the fairly aggressive way this mother is approaching her school and the other parents in her community. And I’m wondering if there is a point at which a parent complaining at a school could actually hurt their children?
Check out this part of The New York Times story:
After sending a heated email to the school about some of the treats, Ms. Roth and her husband went in for a meeting.
“What followed was the kind of meeting in which bureaucracy masquerades as farce, or maybe it’s the other way around. Ms. Roth and her husband, Ben, say they were told by Helene Moffatt, a school safety official, that if they considered the regular dissemination of junk food a threat to their children’s health and safety – and indeed, they do – they should request a health and safety transfer, something that generally follows threats of violence. That transfer request, they were told, would also require filing a complaint with the police.”
“Both parents left feeling they were being pushed out of P.S. 9, which they perceive as exhausted by Ms. Roth’s intense lobbying for, among other things, permission slips for any food not on the official lunch menu. It would not be the first time: The Roths previously lived in Millburn, N.J., where, after Ms. Roth waged war on the bagels and Pringles meal served to kids at lunch, received e-mail from one member of the P.T.A. that said, ‘Please, consider moving.’ That was in 2006, and P.S. 9 has been hearing about its transgressions against healthy eating pretty much ever since.”
“Her extreme methods have earned her attention before: The police were called to a Y.M.C.A. in 2007 when she absconded with the sprinkles and syrups on a table where members were being served ice cream. That was Ms. Roth who called Santa Claus fat on television that Christmas, and she has a continuing campaign against the humble Girl Scout cookies, on the premise that no community activity should promote unhealthy eating.”
She also sends out e-mails with lots of capital letters to other parents in the community. One dad commented that while she had valid points, she was too abrasive in her delivery.
On the one hand she’s fearless. She is trying to protect her kids and fight for what she believes in. On the other hand, is she setting herself and her children up to be pariahs at their school? (Did you catch the part where she was asked to consider moving? Can you imagine?)
I’m not saying parents shouldn’t complain and stand up for what they believe in, but I think they also have to remember their children have to “live” in that environment eight hours a day.
(Obviously if someone is bullying my kids or threatening my kids I’m raising holy cane and would be willing to pull my child if necessary, which I guess is how Ms. Roth feels.)
And I’m sorry as impartial as the teachers and principals should be and may claim to be, your child will suffer some consequences if you are a pain-in-the-a@# parent.
I definitely worry about being a pain-in-the-a@# parent.
I am at my school pretty frequently. (One dad asked me if I worked there.) I know my kids’ teachers, even the ones that teach electives. I know the administrators. I even know the lunch room monitors.
I am going to advocate for my children (because that is my job!) at the school, and I’m going to make sure they get what they need from their teachers and the administrators, but I’m also going to go about it in, hopefully, a smart way that doesn’t hurt my kids in unintended ways.
I try to contribute to the school as much as I annoy.
The final paragraph in the story suggests that Ms. Roth might catch more flies with honey — a very Southern solution.
What do you think: How much can you complain and advocate without putting your kids into an uncomfortable environment? Do you think Ms. Roth is over the line? How would you handle her situation? What other situations have you faced in your school? Would you be offended if parents sent you emails complaining about school policies? Has this ever happened at your school?
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