Serving Breakfast in the Classroom article for RACE response

Teachers, parents serve mixed reactions to breakfast in classrooms

By Associated Press, adapted by Newsela staff


More and more schools across the country now serve breakfasts to students, an increase driven largely by a change in how districts deliver food. Over the last two decades, the number of breakfasts served in the nation's schools has doubled.

It used to be that schools provided low-income students free or reduced-priced breakfasts in the cafeteria. Now they are increasingly serving all children in the classroom instead. Food policy advocates say the change is fairer since all kids eat together.

Many Say Classrooms Are For Learning

The program has caused a backlash from parents and teachers. People who oppose the new programs say that serving food in the classroom takes up class time that should be devoted to learning. They also argue that it wastes food by serving it to kids who don't want or need it.

Lilian Ramos, a mother of two elementary school children in a working-class Los Angeles neighborhood, said she takes offense at the district's assumption that she has not fed her children since she serves them a traditional Mexican breakfast each day.

"They say if kids don't eat they won't learn," Ramos said. "The truth is that many of our kids come to school already having eaten. They come here to study."

The Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation's second-largest with about650,000 K-12 students, has been expanding its breakfast program quickly. By the end of the school year, the LA district will be serving breakfast in class at nearly every school. The growth here mirrors the increase unfolding across the nation. Since 1994,the number of breakfasts served in schools has climbed from about 1 billion annually to2.3 billion, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Across the country, 51 percent of children are considered low-income, up from 32percent in 1989. In a number of school districts, the vast majority of those children qualify for a free or reduced-price meal.

Financial Incentives Are Involved

Proponents of serving breakfast in the classroom believe it is the most effective way to make sure all children are ready to learn and are fed. Students who come to school

hungry, they argue, are at a disadvantage since it is harder to learn when you have not been fed.

There's also a financial incentive for districts to expand breakfast programs. The federal government reimburses schools for the cost of each meal they serve.

At Stanley Mosk Elementary, a school in Los Angeles, teachers help distribute the meal, check off which students are eating and show a video offering a nutrition lesson, all in 10 minutes. Stanley Mosk is considered to have a model food distribution program that other schools should follow. On a recent morning, students were given apples, cereal and a small, packaged breakfast sandwich. But by the end of the meal, there was a large cooler filled with uneaten breakfast sandwiches.

"I think it's a good way for students to eat here because sometimes at home they're in such a rush," said 10-year-old Fatima Nassar. "Sometimes I see students throw it away." 

Evolution Of Classroom Breakfast

In Los Angeles, parents from wealthier schools in the district organized a group to protest the morning breakfasts. They won, which means that 32 schools in the district can opt out of program as long as fewer than 20 percent of their students fall below the poverty line.

Parents at UCLA Community School also organized, claiming the program took away instructional time from low-income and English-learner students, a group that scores persistently lower in reading and math. They also worried about unsanitary classrooms.

About a decade ago, school and food policy advocates began drawing attention to the low participation in the nation's school breakfast programs. Some districts did not offer it, while others provided it before class, forcing students to arrive early.

"Breakfast in the classroom evolved as a smart response," said Jim Weill, president of the nonprofit group Food Research and Action Center.

Program Has Mixed Reactions

A 2013-14 survey found 52 of 62 school districts nationwide offered free meals to everyone, regardless of income, at some or all schools. Fifty had breakfast in classrooms.

Not everyone has embraced it. In New York City, former Mayor Michael Bloomberg opposed serving breakfast in class over concerns that children would eat twice. The current city mayor, Bill de Blasio, has expressed support, but the program has only been implemented in 301 schools of about 1,600 across the entire district.

At the UCLA Community School, parents plan to continue fighting the decision.

"We want them to serve it in the cafeteria," Raquel Martinez, a mother of three, said.

"That's what the cafeteria is for."


Breakfast Article Rubric

1 point for each


-Mention of Critics (Teachers and Parents)

-Mention of the new breakfast program

-Mention of time

-Mention of resources




-Why is time wasted?

-Why are resources wasted?



-Quality cite from article proving answer for why time is wasted.

-Quality cite from article proving answer for why resources are wasted.

-Credit given to author or publication



-Practical solution for problem of wasted resources.

-Practical solution for problem of wasted time.



_______ out of 12




RACE Article - Year Round School

Does US Need Year-Round School To Compete?

US Students Praised For Sub-Standard School Work


By LZ Granderson, CNN Contributor

Posted: 6:51 am EDT May 10, 2011Updated: 8:39 am EDT May 10, 2011

Grand Rapids, Michigan (CNN) -- As a nation, either our kids are getting dumber or everyone else's are getting smarter. American 15-year-olds ranked 14th in reading, 17th in science and 25th in math in a study of students in 34 nations and nonnational regions.

The Program for International Student Assessment study, coordinated every three years by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, definitively shows U.S. students are no longer ready to compete against the world's brightest.

Which brings me to this: Why are we still giving them the summer off?

As it stands, only eight of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries that took part in the study in 2009 have a lower high school graduation rate than we do. It's so bad in some schools, educators have a nickname for them: dropout factories.

That's a national crisis with a potential for significant economic impact. The organization estimates that by boosting our scores for reading, math and science by 25 points over the next 20 years, the United States would gain $41 trillion over the lifetime of the generation born in 2010. As cash-strapped as we are, can we really afford to leave that kind of money on the table? Instead of year-round school as curiosity, I think it's time it becomes a government-enforced standard.

Remember recently when the nation got all in a tizzy after the International Monetary Fund reported China would pass us as the world's largest economy in 2016? Well, considering Shanghai ranked No. 1 in the education report, that shouldn't really surprise anyone.

To make matters worse, our kids have no idea just how far behind they really are.

When the results of the test were released in the winter, Arne Duncan, U.S. Department of Education secretary, pointed out that despite not being in the top of any of the subjects tested, "U.S. students express more self-confidence in their academic skills than students in virtually all OECD nations. This stunning finding may be explained because students here are being commended for work that would not be acceptable in high-performing education systems."

It's as if the United States were cast in one of those cliché Hollywood movies as the 29-year-old dumb and balding jock who still wears his high school varsity jacket.

Cutting into summer vacation won't solve all our education problems -- most research points toward the quality of the teacher as the biggest influencer -- but more class time could help. At 180 days, we have one of the shortest school years of the countries tested. South Korea, for example, has 220 school days, and a No. 2 ranking in math. Finland is first in math and science at 190 days.

Then there's this: Harris Cooper, a summer-learning expert at Duke University, pored over a century's worth of data and found that each summer, our kids lose about a month of progress in math and that low-income students lose as much as three months' worth of reading comprehension.

Again, that's each summer.

More than a month of teaching time at the beginning of the school year is spent re-teaching the stuff our kids forgot over the break. This may be one of the reasons why the report suggests Finnish 15-year-olds are one to two years ahead of our kids in math and science.

Now I hear the cry from some who say "Let our kids be kids," but what does that mean today? The reason for summer vacations in the first place was that little Johnny was needed in the fields to help the family during growing season. Today more people live in cities than they do in rural areas, and that farming structure has been obsolete for some time. If our kids aren't working on the farm all summer long, what are they doing?

Watching TV?

Playing video games?

Getting into trouble?

Heck, a lot of our kids' summers and holiday breaks are already structured around Amateur Athletic Union practices and tournaments. Why is it so wrong to suggest structuring the summer around more education, especially when the amount students receive is no longer enough to keep them competitive on the world stage?

In July 2008, then-Sen. Obama suggested American children should learn a second language. That was met with a great deal of criticism, as if being bilingual and more educated was somehow un-American.

You want to know what's un-American?

Not being innovative. Refusing to think outside the box.

We used to be a nation of entrepreneurs and trailblazers, but now we're just dogmatic consumers. We want problems to be fixed but we don't want the solution to be an inconvenience. So we look for silver bullets, which in our culture usually means tossing more money at things. But guess what? We spend on average about $30,000 more per student than the other Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries, yet the best we can do is middle of the road.

Since when did chanting "We're No. 25!" become acceptable?

Today, if you want to keep your child in a learning environment during the summer, you most likely have to pony up hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars to enroll them in a program or two. Families who can't afford to do that depend on scholarships or programs funded by government grants or corporations. If you grew up poor like me, and no extra income was available for transportation to those programs, you simply stayed home and watched TV every day for hours.

In retrospect, I would have been better served being in school.

I would imagine teachers wouldn't be thrilled to give up their long vacation. And the athletic apparel companies that enjoy the income Amateur Athletic Union summer leagues generate wouldn't like it much either. Nor would the colleges and universities that rake in extra cash brought in by hosting summer programs.

But the biggest obstacle to re-evaluating summer vacations is probably our love of the familiar. As humans we are naturally averse to change and the end of summer vacations would greatly alter the way we've done things for more than 100 years.

But what terrible thing would happen if we made the entire year part of the education process, with mini-breaks sprinkled throughout? Year-round schooling would not be repealing the child labor laws of 1938 and it won't force kids to lose their childhood. But it would give our young more of a fighting chance. The world is getting smaller, the world is getting smarter and if you look around you'll see when it comes to education, we're no longer basking in the glow of superiority.

We're wallowing in mediocrity. And our kids don't even know it.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of LZ Granderson.