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There are a lots of ways that we over-think things in the world of education policy and ignore obvious, common sense solutions.

As this article by an NYU doctoral student from the website OZY.com reminds us today, many such solutions are as simple, practical and cheap as a peanut butter and jelly sandwich:

“Many big public schools are overcrowded to the point that students have to stagger their lunches. This means some kids are eating lunch at 10 a.m. and others at 2 p.m. Considering that a lot of these kids skip breakfast, many of them are going eight hours or more without anything to eat. In fact, a 2013 report by No Kid Hungry, a nonprofit working toward ending childhood hunger, found that 73 percent of teachers say they have students who come to school hungry on a regular basis. Feeding America and the USDA report that, in 2012, 15.8 million kids in the U.S. didn’t have reliable access to food. This hunger, combined with the long wait to eat or the very early lunch, has two big impacts on these kids’ lives….

Luckily, it’s a pretty simple problem to solve. When I was a holistic health counselor at a public high school…I asked the guidance counselors to send me students who would regularly either fall asleep or start fights at 10 a.m. or 3:00 p.m. — the hungriest hours. My theory was that these kids were not angry or petulant, but instead were acting out the effects of their hunger. My prescription? Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. PB&Js were an easy, delicious and culturally acceptable way to get healthy energy into students who were struggling so mightily against their own biology. While my results were far from scientific, many of the students I worked with ended up with better grades and fewer trips to the counselor’s office.

PB&Js are far from a panacea. A sandwich cannot address the funding issues, crumbling infrastructure or myriad social burdens our schools and students face in their struggle to learn. However, when we don’t give our students enough food to fuel their brains, we set them up to fail. If we are serious about improving educational achievement and ending childhood obesity, we have to make sure our students have the most basic tools they need to succeed, which in many cases might involve peanut butter and jelly.”

Read the entire article by clicking here.

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One area of right-wing obsession that continues to boggle the mind is that of school breakfasts and lunches. As we’ve noted on many occasions in this space, the local Pope-funded groups seem to have an almost bizarre fixation on the subject — especially the notion that (horrors!) some nine year old somewhere is getting a reduced price bowl of oatmeal even though her family income may have risen above the prescribed bureaucratic threshold. God forbid that we err on the side of getting children adequate calories!

Now, comes word of a parallel and strightforward attack on feeding kids at the federal level. This is from a report by the good folks at Think Progress:

“House Republicans recently proposed cuts to nutrition assistance that will kick 280,000 low-income childrenoff automatic enrollment in the Free School Lunch and Breakfast Program. Those same kids and 1.5 million other people will also lose their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly food stamp benefits) that help them afford food at home.

Ten years’ worth of these nutrition cuts could be prevented for the price of one year of tax cuts on 3,340 multimillion dollar estates that House Republicans are protecting in their budget.”

The bottom line: There’s lots of room for debate when it comes to federal spending on any number of items. And, like all programs involving humans, it seems certain that there is inefficiency in the school breakfast and lunch program. But, good grief! At some point basic humanity needs to kick in. How do these people look in the mirror every morning after having proposed to eliminate more than a quarter million kids from such a basic program?

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It turns out that the right-wing horror story about marauding bans of pre-school lunch police was more than a tad oversold by the “reporters” behind it.

Click here to read the head of the Locke Foundation’s tortured quasi-retraction.

UNCG Economics professor Dave Ribar also has a quite thorough debunking of the right-wing’s Nuggetgate at his blog: Applied Rationality.

Here are a couple of his nuggets of wisdom: Read More