No place for ba­nana bread bul­lies at board

The Intelligencer (Belleville) - - OPINION -

The re­port of a Grade 1 boy who wasn’t al­lowed to eat home­made ba­nana bread with his class­mates be­cause his teacher al­legedly ques­tioned its nu­tri­tional value is wor­ri­some.

Ev­ery­one ap­pre­ci­ates it’s im­por­tant to en­cour­age young­sters to make wise food choices, but schools don’t have the right to shame pupils for their par­ents’ se­lec­tions.

In this case the poor lad, who is autis­tic, was al­legedly told to eat his ba­nana bread in the hall­way, while class­mates en­joyed their fruits and veg­eta­bles in the class­room.

“I send food with him that I know he will eat,” says the boy’s mother, who Post­media has cho­sen not to name. “I don’t want peo­ple telling me what to feed my child.”

And nor should the mother be told what food items can be brought to school. Be­sides, ba­nana bread, de­pend­ing on the recipe, can be a nu­tri­tious snack.

We’re of­ten told teach­ers have too many tasks to jug­gle in to­day’s com­plex class­rooms. Ap­par­ently, the teacher in­volved in this in­ci­dent has time to pass judg­ment on stu­dents’ snack choices on top of all their other de­mands.

The CBE said in a state­ment that its nu­tri­tion reg­u­la­tion ap­plies to food and bev­er­ages served or sold by staff or con­tracted providers.

It does not ap­ply to the lunch or snack items par­ents send with their child or to school coun­cil-spon­sored lunch days.

The pol­icy seems clear, but in­stead of ad­mit­ting the teacher ap­pears to have made an er­ror, the Cal­gary Board of Ed­u­ca­tion ob­scures mat­ters.

“Staff may sup­port stu­dents with learn­ing and be­hav­iour re­lated to any ac­tiv­ity dur­ing the day,” reads the state­ment. “Some­time this oc­curs as stu­dents are hav­ing a snack. In these cir­cum­stances the ac­tions staff take are not re­lated to a nu­tri­tional choice or snack a par­ent has sent.”

The school dis­trict is speak­ing out of both sides of its mouth.

Thank­fully, the ed­u­ca­tion min­is­ter gets it: “While it is im­por­tant to en­sure our stu­dents learn about healthy meal and snack choices, Al­berta Ed­u­ca­tion aims to en­sure all stu­dents are safe, wel­come and cared for while at school,” said David Eggen.

Other par­ents have shared sim­i­lar ac­counts of stu­dents be­ing made to feel awk­ward be­cause of what’s in their lunch box.

The CBE should be pro­tect­ing par­ents and their chil­dren from heavy-handed em­ploy­ees ac­cused of sham­ing the young­sters they’re paid to care for and ed­u­cate.

In to­day’s more en­light­ened times, the CBE needs to do bet­ter.

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