TechWise Research has been a proud supporter of public education in San Diego for many years. In January 2005 we published the report entitled "Update on Best Practices in San Diego Education." Conducted for the Business Roundtable for Education, this report summarizes a follow-up study of 79 previously identified Best Practice programs in San Diego public education. Qualified Team TechWise members can download this report for free.
Today I just experienced a scholastic policy that was the antithesis of a "Best Practice." San Diego is blessed with some of the best weather in the U.S. Every now and then, however, it does rain here. Today is one of those days. It has been raining steady all day with 20 mph winds gusting to 40 mph. Why do I bring this up? The local middle school, home to about 1,300 students, has a policy that forced many of the students to eat their lunch standing up in the rain! I wonder what the US Department of Health and Human Services would have to say about this policy?
How can this be? Are we not in the middle of an H1N1 flu pandemic? I know for a fact that many students at this school have been out ill with H1N1 at some point during the year. A couple of factors contributed to this strange policy. First, land is very expensive in San Diego. In order to save money, most of our public schools do not have indoor cafeterias. Instead they have tables outside where students can eat their lunch. This particular school, however, does not even have tables. These students simply sit down on the ground/grass to eat their lunch. On rainy days they are forced to stand (unless they want to sit on the wet ground). Second, in order to accommodate "block scheduling", all 1,300 students eat their lunch at the same time. Why is this important? Even if this school wanted to build a cafeteria, it would need to be enormous to accommodate so many students at once!
I agree with the decision not to have indoor cafeterias. I think it is ludicrous, however, to have students eat their lunch standing up in the blowing rain. To be fair, the students are given the option of eating their lunch in the gymnasium. The problem is that the gym is far too small to accommodate everyone. Furthermore, anyone who has been in a school gym would probably agree that it is not the most appealing of places to eat. Why not let the students eat lunch in the classrooms? This seems like a no-cost common sense solution to the problem. Yes it may inconvenience the teachers, but isn't our students' health more important?
Note to readers: I realize my first two posts have a bit of a negative tone. It is not my intention to turn this into a gripe page. Far from it! In my next post I am going to profile an internet technologies company that provides exceptional customer service. Stay tuned...