TCS Daily


Choking on Caution

By John Ford - January 30, 2007 12:00 AM

One would have thought that no mere mortal could have come up with this school policy:

"A Roman Catholic elementary school adopted new lunchroom rules this week requiring students to remain silent while eating. The move comes after three recent choking incidents in the cafeteria."

Principal Jeannine Fuller determined that the noise caused by talking might prevent school officials from hearing a choking child thus leading to his or her demise.

Who wouldn't want to prevent a child from dying from choking? Not me. But consider the true magnitude of this problem.

In 2001, the only year with which I have data, 160 children ages 14 and under died from aspiration of a foreign body. Of these, only 41% were due to food. This corresponds to approximately 66 deaths due to choking on food in a one year period in the entire United States.

Let's see...

  • 66 deaths per year due to choking on food products.
  • Over 60 million children in that age group in the United States (2000 Census data).
  • Roughly three meals per day per child.
  • 365 days that year.

This comes to about one death per billion meals.

Eating is arguably one of the safer behaviors we engage in. Even children 14 and under appear remarkably adept at it.

Admittedly, the annual number of nonfatal food chokings seen in emergency rooms that year was not insignificant: an estimated 17,537 for all chokings. However, of these, fewer than 2000 are sick enough to be hospitalized, the rest being discharged directly to home from the emergency room.

Clearly, 66 deaths per year is too many. But in the big picture, choking to death on an overcooked burger is not a major risk faced by today's youth. Any interventions to prevent such deaths need to be carefully thought out. When faced with extremely low risks, even the slightest negative consequences can become significant because it doesn't take much for the costs to exceed the benefits.

Life is serious enough for children. In forcing silence, we are denying kids wonderful memories of lunch hour: The pleasures of making fun of each other, of gossiping about that bottle of Jack Daniels they saw hidden in the custodian's cleaning cart, of calling their teachers "doodoo heads", etc.

The following more tempered recommendation was made in a journal article entitled Aerodigestive tract foreign bodies in the older child and adolescent. It appears to be more efficacious, less fear provoking and less invasive:

"Pediatricians and parents of children in this age group should discourage the practice of using the oral cavity as a repository for school supplies, and should stress the need for adequate preparation and mastication of food..."

Sound advice that...especially the part about the school supplies.

John S. Ford, MD, MPH is Assistant Professor of Medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. You can find more of his writing here.

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49 Comments

All right, cough it up
Obviously there is something going on in the school in question.

If the odds of a child choking to death are one in every billion meals, yet this school has seen three (nonfatal) choking incidents in the space of a week, something peculiar is going on.

Maybe the children are holding hard boiled egg swallowing contests. I don't know. But until it is investigated, a wise course would be to have them remain silent at meals... and hopefully thinking about chewing each mouthful sixty times before swallowing, as was once recommended.

Eventually someone's going to get tired of this oppression, and spill the beans to the head Sister.

there's something going on all right
it is the fact that the adminstration is so afraid of any problem, that they are willing to enforce any amount of inconvenience on others to eliminate it.

Does anyone else find it funny the lengths rb will go to find a reason to defend govt action?

Read the story
" it is the fact that the adminstration is so afraid of any problem, that they are willing to enforce any amount of inconvenience on others to eliminate it.
Does anyone else find it funny the lengths rb will go to find a reason to defend govt action?"

No. What I find striking is that in your mind, every comment I make becomes an occasion to lash out at me for defending the US government. Whereas I have been writing all these many hundreds of opinions of mine under the impression that I have been very disapproving in my assessment of the government. I thought I had been writing that everything they did was wrong.

Further, I would invite you to go back and read the story a bit more closely. Isn't it the case that the rule was not initiated by the USG, but rather by one private, Catholic school?

Does that make any difference in your theory?

Random
Roy wrote:
'Obviously there is something going on in the school in question.

If the odds of a child choking to death are one in every billion meals, yet this school has seen three (nonfatal) choking incidents in the space of a week, something peculiar is going on.'

You are mixing stats wrong. The one in billion is for fatal chokings. Far more common are non-fatal chokings.

Putting that aside it could happen and still be random. It is dificult for people to accept or undestand random.






It may be a bit much
But I do tend to agree with you. This is not normal and there is something going on. This isn't that harsh a penalty and some kid is likely to squeal so the school can find out what is really going on here.

not gov't action
this is a catholic school

Using statistics
I think I'm using the stats correctly. I do point out the distinction between fatal and nonfatal chokings. But I just do not see that chokings should be so common that a single school sees three in a typical week, while nationwide, there is only a single fatality for every billion meals. That seems intuitively wrong, and would imply that far fewer than one in a billion chokings were fatal.

It may just be that this is the explanation-- that of every billion chokings 999,999,999 have good outcomes. But I just think that's unlikely.

Also, I don't see where the magic word "random" clarifies the example.

Make them go hungry
My approach would be to starve the little buggers until they gave it up. I'd get to the bottom of things.

And if they still didn't divulge... the thumb screw! Lightly applied, of course. I believe that Catholic schools aren't held to quite the same constraints as are our namby pamby public schools.

Show 'em who's boss! There would be no more chokings on my watch. At least not unless ordered by the duly constituted authorities. We'd scare them straight in short order.

I did read the story, then I read your response to it.
Your response was clasic roy.

"Those in authority are so much smarter than us. How can anyone question the motives of those in authority. If it looks like they are doing something stupid, the only possible explanation is that they know more than us poor peons."

Of course the assumptions are reversed when the person in power is known to be a Republican.

roy has a love of authority complex
...

choking incidents
what constitutes a choking incident?
is it reported consistently throughout the US?
if someone chokes but recovers rather quickly by either coughing it up or some other method, is that an incident?

there are all these statistics and we all think that they are consistently gathered. i do not believe that they are.

i collect data for incidents on the computer systems and the metrics are not always cut and dried. there is a lot of subjective play in all of the numbers.

are these real incidents or are they a result of an overzealous monitor?

another question: why does anybody have to see the choking? are the monitors that incompetent?

why not announce the increase in the incidents and for the students to be aware of their friends and classmates. if there is choking, they will let you know

the loners are the only ones that would have to be monitored per se.

I'm amazed how badly you screw up the numbers.
So lets take a look.
(numbers for children ages 14 and under)
Fatal chokings per year: 160
Fatal chokings per year involving food: 66
Chokings per year that result in ED trips: 17,537

None of these numbers have any indication as to how many 'choking incidents' occur that do not result in trips to the hospital except we can be fairly certain it is much more than 17,537.

One in a billion meals refers to the 66 number. The number of chokings that result in a trip to the ED is roughly 1 in 3.7 million meals. The article doesn't even assert that any of the 'choking incidents' resulted in any medical attention, which means there probably was none. This puts the 'choking incidents' at the school into the, most likely much broader, catagory of unreported.

The original article does not indicate that all three 'choking incidents' occurred in a single week. The only mention of the word 'week' is in the time frame the policy was put in place (as in 'this week').

Nowhere did anybody say anything about a billion chokings other than roy.

Blame the cook
Maybe they have a crappy cook! Maybe they should switch to pudding.

Feeding tubes
Maybe we can make kids use feeding tubes? I am sure this has risks also. Wait, could it be that life has risks? In fact, is not risk that makes it fun? What a sterile society we are creating. When I was a kid we used to ride in the back of trucks and ride bikes without helemets. I don't remember anyone dying from it although I am sure it has happened. We are really getting silly are we not?

I have a question or two...
1. Assuming the statistics given are anywhere near correct, what would be the numbers if only school meals were taken into consideration?

2. Did the school ever take a few minutes to TEACH its students to take smaller bites and to chew them?

LOL
And the rack for any parents who complain!

good point
I'm tired of government regulations for everything; bike helmet laws are my current bane! What a bunch fo crap!

How about the government getting out of any behavoir that doen't constitute a public danger.

Just wait
What about sky diving, water sking, rock climbing, car racing, motorcycle racing and so on. These nannies that push this stuff never think about the consequences until it is their sacred cow that gets cooked. Spank your kids anyone?

Preparing and Conditioning Children For the Nanny Police State
All of these absurd restrictions on students (especially the "zero tolerance" rules) are designed to condition them and make them more malleable, subservient, and obedient to the increasingly totalitarian police state developing and evolving in the West. We have been overrun by cultural marxism (i.e. "political correctness") and its being shoved down our and our children's throats.

The Bureaucracy...the Matrix...the Control Grid...Big Brother...there are many names for it. Essentially, we are being led and herded like cattle. All institutions have now as thier #1 objective, the control and subjugation of individuality. Truth, individuality, and freedom are now verboten...taboo.

Welcome to hell.....

Unless
They are now making school books to teach global warming to kids. Better to indoctrinate them early to get the masses to follow the shining path. However, we can still stop them but we have to end being the silent ones. They are the establishment now. Remember what Spartacus said; "One man said no and all of Rome trembled".

The most fascinating FACT about global warming
Is the composition of the atmosphere:

78% Nitrogen
21% Oxygen
.9% Argon
.1% Carbon Dioxide and other trace gases

The "big increase" in C02 is going from something like 300ppm to 500ppm ("ppm" = "parts per million!!")

So, I'm supposed to believe that a minute increase in the amount of C02, which cannot be accurately and precisely traced to human activity (its only indirectly attributed), is THE cause of a 1 to 2 degree rise in Earth's temperature!???

Its sad...most people are unware of just how little C02 there is in the atmosphere. Now, there is new research that indicates that cyclical increases in the energy output of the sun could be the cause of global warming.

BTW...the Earth goes through perfectly natural cycles of warming and cooling (the cooling part we call "ice ages"). The C02 levels are only spuriously correlated to this cycle of warming and cooling.

Its really amazing the generation of fools and blind idiots our "nation" (its not a "nation" anymore, but a "market") is breeding and conditioning....sad.

Cycles
Yes, not only is the earth based on cycles but the climate is a self regulating system. Likely to much warming will result in more cloud cover and thus rains and cooling eventually or some other mechanism to limit the system and return balance. Additionally, no body has proven to me that a warmer earth is bad other than the dire predictions of the politburos. The mantra of alarm and doom plays into the hands of those who want to further enslave the masses. The latest socialist dogma I have heard is this idea of we each get a carbon footprint. In other words some elitist gets to determine my worth and thus my lot in life. No longer a individual I am a subject to the collective mindspeak. Hence I am to join the other sheep lest I be labeled a trouble maker and am placed in the re-education camps.

Take a remedial reading course
The remark you attribute to me has nothing to do with my comment. When you put something in quotes, it's supposed to be a verbatim quote. This thing is not even a paraphrase-- it has nothing to do with what I was conveying.

So-- your first notion, that I was endorsing Big Government, was 180 degrees off base. And your subsequent notion, that I was endorsing the unerrant wisdom of people in authority, is also off base.

Why not actually read the stuff that appears on these pages for content? People actually make statements here that don't conform to your ideological blinders.

How did I get to a billion?
Very simple. I did what you did, and began with what the article reported, Didn't the author say

"Let's see...
* 66 deaths per year due to choking on food products.
* Over 60 million children in that age group in the United States (2000 Census data).
* Roughly three meals per day per child.
* 365 days that year.

This comes to about one death per billion meals."

Maybe I shouldn't have trusted his figures, and gone behind them for a closer look. He is correct that there are sixty million children under 14 in the US, as of the 2000 census report.

http://www.census.gov/population/cen2000/phc-t08/tab01.pdf

Multiply that by an average of three meals and you get 180 million. Then divide by 66 and you have one fatality in every 2,727,272 meals. Per day.

Multiply that by 365 days and you get 995 million. See? His estimate of a billion was way off.

But I think my point is still well taken. If there is only one fatality in the US for every 995 million meals eaten by children under 14, intuition tells us there's something odd going on in a school that sees three nonfatal chokings in a short period of time.

Maybe they should switch to pudding
I think you're on the right track, jim. This problem could be solved by crafting a federal law... one that reads something like "No school cafeteria in the country, in either any private or public school, shall serve lunch to any child containing particles in excess of zero point five cm in diameter. Nor shall they permit children to carry lunches from home with particles in excess of that size, requiring that they be chewed." Such a law would permit peas, for instance, but not broccoli unless mashed.

Attach some stiff penalties and I think there you have it: problem solved.

More laws, not fewer
Don't kids get into really dumb contests, like "what's the biggest rock you can swallow"?

What's really needed here is a national law prohibiting unsupervised play. No kids should be allowed to gather in groups greater than one without an adult supervising them. Stiff penalties should be built in.

This monkey business has got to stop!

Mock
Let emulate the almight socalist state and just keep the umbilical cord attached for life.

The control grid
You know, I agree with you totally.

"All of these absurd restrictions on students (especially the "zero tolerance" rules) are designed to condition them and make them more malleable, subservient, and obedient to the increasingly totalitarian police state developing and evolving in the West."

Public school education especially is designed to keep a student from thinking critically. It is geared toward acceptance of the powers that be, and of their version of reality with no consideration of any option. It emphasizes following the rules to get the reward they dangle. It encourages "multiple choice" thinking, where you are to guess what they determine to be the correct answer, and to be rewarded for it. In your Pavlovian box any creativity you display beyond their narrowly drawn boundaries will go unrewarded.

Whereas life is actually an essay question, and you have to grade your own paper. No one else is qualified to grade your paper, just as you are qualified to grade no one else's.

If we rise above the system it's usually not because of our education but in spite of it. The system raises employees in great quantity.

teaching
"2. Did the school ever take a few minutes to TEACH its students to take smaller bites and to chew them?"

Isn't that the parents job?

in roy's world, govt is the answer to all problems, from hangnails to super novas.
...

Super Novas
I will concede a Super Nova to the government :)

Every day
Whether they need it or not! LOL!

Actually we do spank, usually as a final resort. My wife and I tend to go the time-out route first and that works 90% of the time.

Spanking
My Mom spanked me. It worked. Mom was to be feared IF you transgressed. However, I have no predisposition to violence. I rarely have spanked mine, they usually tow the line. Scolding and other punishments seem to work fine. This is however not a argument against spanking and it is absolutely not the "states" business. Now they want to tell me what type of light bulbs to use. What food to eat, what to drive, where to live, how big a house I can own, what type of lawnmower, wear a seatbelt, wear a helmet, don't ride in the back of your truck (something I loved as a kid). The left is slowly taking away all our freedoms in the name of the common good. They desire a society free of risk and where they envy not their neighbor for they rest assured he has nothing more than they. It must be a sad life to walk this earth looking thru eyes that only see despair and envy. Eyes staring in indifference to anything but their own slef ish interest. It is funny how the left claims the right is selfish in the persuit of dreams while they are so selfish in their envy.

In my school
We choked on joints that we where trying to hide when the teacher saw us....

I don't think keeping quite would have helped that issue.

now you are depressing me!
Not because of what you say, but because I recognize it is all true.

I see people better off and I recognize the three factors that made them better off. !. willing to take a risk that perhaps I'm not willing to take, 2. extreme hard work to make it happen, 3. at least a little luck.

The luck is the only thing to envy. But it wouldn't matter if I don't put in the first two. They had to take the risk to have any luck and they had to work hard to make it pay off.

Sure, I work hard enough, I run my own business, but I did not take as many risks as they did and, probably, they made better choices.

The point is, what's to envy? You too can have what they have (at least to some extent) if you are willing to work that hard and willing to take those risks. (Of course taking risks is just that; you could end up destitute just as easily)

you always assume that those in power (except when they are Republicans)
are doing what they do for a good reason. Even if you don't understand your reason.

It goes back to your oft stated belief that people who work for the authorities, especially govt, are smarter than the rest of us, so we shouldn't complain about anything they do to us.

And that is bad because?
You said - "If we rise above the system it's usually not because of our education but in spite of it. The system raises employees in great quantity."

The truely talented usually do rise above. The biggest problem with public education is that they do not raise good employees at all. Understanding critical thinking and creativity are good things, but most people need to add, subtract, mulitply an divide; understand a little basic science and be able to speak and write somewhat understandably; quite more than learning to "be creative".

And the school system fails miserably at this task.

Instead, they are more worried about comprenhensive Sex Ed and self esteem. in fact, they echo your "Whereas life is actually an essay question, and you have to grade your own paper. No one else is qualified to grade your paper, just as you are qualified to grade no one else's." motif far more than they do the "raising employees in great quantity" classification.

Way too many teens can't ad or subtract well enough to work at McDonald's; that is the truely sad thing about our public school system.

Not to much
I am to own a business. All business people think they could have done more. No worry, I am sure it is fine and the difference is knowing when to follow a opportunity. As a example, I see opportunity everywhere. I look at things and it never occurs to me that I cannot afford it or do not have the money. I see opportunity and figure that I can get the money or overcome the obstacles. Others either do not see it or the obstacles are to great to overcome. They never start figuring why take the risk. Others yet have no interest in anymore than a job, house and car. Nothing wrong with that at all. All are entitled to their dream. My complaint is that the left seeks to deny the risk takers great reward and reward the non-risk takers. Equality of outcome is only possible by lowering all to the lowest common denominator. Equality of opportunity offers all the chance to succeed.

Genuine fruitcake
"It goes back to your oft stated belief that people who work for the authorities, especially govt, are smarter than the rest of us, so we shouldn't complain about anything they do to us."

That's me. I don't know how many times I've said this. Mister Bush is a really wise man. And I know he has my best interest at heart-- even if I can't understand his lofty thoughts.

Talented students, on hold
Interesting op-ed in the paper the other day:

http://www.newsobserver.com/711/story/537523.html

Since the arrival of No Child, all the federal money has been going toward remedial schooling, as it only addresses the needs of the subpar. The above par get less than one percent of funding. That means the estimated 2,400,000 talented and gifted just sit around all day waiting for the slow ones to "get it".

And while the below-100 IQs are struggling to learn how to paint inside the lines, the bright kids are just watching the clock waiting for the bell. There's not a lot of challenge there.

It really pays to keep up with current events. I can date you accurately with your comment about self esteem. That was a brief fad back in the Reagan Era. Even inner city schools have moved so far beyond that now that the current crop of teachers are too young to remember it.

But you're right, take away their calculators and most kids can't multiply. For that matter take away their text messaging cell phones and they can't write. Blame bad teachers, bad school boards and bad curricula for that.

Slightly different view, but it works out to the same thing
Envy, in my book, is only for those who don't want to work for something.

I'm proud of my brother who is a self made millionaire (finally), but he made many life choices I would never have made to get there. Ironically, he wishes he would have made more of the decisions I made, as long as he could have had the final outcome he is beginning to enjoy. We often laugh about it and he never "looks down his nose" at is "poor" older brother. Still, he is happy where he is and we are the best of friends; as well as brothers.

I'm just as happy for friends of mine that have done well. I don't want the fruits of their labor, I'm doing fine and just want to continue on my path.

In my world, this is exactly the case - "Equality of outcome is only possible by lowering all to the lowest common denominator. Equality of opportunity offers all the chance to succeed. "

I would add that I believe there is some room for a "hand up" or "safety net" in a responsible society. But It shouldn't be the present "hand out" that is our welfare system.

I agree
Teaching one to support themselves is a noble goal. A handout is enslavement. The inner cities are perfect examples of handouts...

I'm not behind the times
You obviously don't have kids in school. Self-esteem nonsense prevails in our public schools (at least throughout the West), though some of it is wrapped in the bow of "teaching tolerance" and "anti-Bullying" rules. It doesn't matter the wrapping, the message is pretty much identical to the self-esteem clap-trap being pushed in the 80s.

that op-ed piece is way off base. Again, from my experience in schools in five states, gifted and talented students are getting just as much attention as they did before "No Child" was implemented; more in my state these days.

Roy, Public schools are only funded to the tune of, maybe, 10% by the feds. Most states have continued their gifted and talented programs. This article is making assumptions that all gifted and talented programs have been dropped since "No Child" was implemented. that is the only way to come up with those numbers and the "sitting around waiting for the clock" assumptions.

Quite the contrary, gifted programs in my area have really ramped up in recent years.

Maybe so
The co-authors are academics in the field, so what would they know about it? One is a "gifted education research specialist" at the Duke University Talent Identification Program and the other is a faculty member in Duke's program in Education and director of Duke's gifted licensure program. They might just be ill-informed.

I wouldn't know. My only anecdotal experience is in having a talented (math and tech wonk) grandson in the best public high school in a rural county. He's in an excellent G&T program, with outreach to college programs by his junior year.

There's a great gulf around here between good and bad public schools. So it might still be the case in rural schools with a lot of ignorant or delinquent kids, who rely more on the federal money because the local money has to come from taxpayers making $15-25K a year, that there's just not enough cash around to make ends meet.

I'm guessing that this is the real picture, and that the authors, you, my grandson and the kids in poor counties are all accurately portraying a piece of the Big Picture.

PS, on self esteem
I'm really full of it this morning. Here's some more:

"Self-esteem nonsense prevails in our public schools (at least throughout the West), though some of it is wrapped in the bow of "teaching tolerance" and "anti-Bullying" rules. It doesn't matter the wrapping, the message is pretty much identical to the self-esteem clap-trap being pushed in the 80s."

I see these as being two different issues entirely. "Self esteem" is rewarding the child for his or her mere existence, as opposed to performance. It arose in the inner city public schools where they found that the problem with their kids was they were systematically being taken down by their own parents and by one another. It was a cultural thing in the ghetto. The adults themselves had been raised that way, and no one thought very highly of themselves or of anyone else. So high performance was not a cultural value-- everyone believed that they were stupid.

A decade or two of self-esteem training was actually a positive method of addressing that issue. Naturally, out of area it was a dumb message. Normal kids need goals, and should only be praised when they meet them.

Anti-bullying education is vitally needed-- and has nothing to do with self esteem. Every school system includes a number of troubled, insecure kids from families where physical abuse is a problem. They act out by finding someone smaller or weaker to make his life miserable (or her-- girls are just as bad).

Not infrequently they are so artful they will drive the bullied kids to suicide, and in several cases have driven them to commit those multiple-victim school shootings. This pattern crops up again and again. So yes, most schools badly need bully identification and treatment programs.

Teaching tolerance? Have you ever grown up the only gay kid in a school? Or the fat kid? How about the only Jewish kid in class? Do you think this is a program there is no need for, and that all children innately recognize the worth of every human being without its being taught?

In a pinch kids can get by without math-- they can just buy a calculator. But I wouldn't want them in society if they hadn't been screened for racism, sexism or other chauvinism. These are societal problems that have to be addressed by the schools, since the parents themselves are usually the source of the problem.

Okay, I've said it. No more post scripts

An impractical suggestion
You wouldn't want to keep your umbilical cord attached for life for the same reason that electric cars don't come with long extension cords.

Very reasonable
It is also a factor of where they are at. Many areas of the south and east have taken more of a "lead" from the feds that the northwest. Unfortunately my friend, I live in one of those poor rural areas in my little part of the country; we don't have a major problem with this, though we don't have as good a G&T program as it sounds like your grandson has.

My arguement with this is not their observation that G&T students are being left out, they are to some extent; it is that they are saying that all (the only way they can come up with the large number they use) of these kids are being ignored. Your experience and mine says that is completely untrue. (one of the few situations where anecdotal personal evidence actually trumps this kind of claim)

It is one thing for you and I to exaggerate to make a point in a personal discussion, it is another for professionals in a field to exaggerate in a study or paper for publication.

But you are right in the end, we all just have part of the big picture.

Your point is valid, but that is often not being done
In most of the situations I know of where bullying is the issue, they are either severely punishing the bully (and often missing the real troublemakers) or coddling them and trying to improve their self-esteem. Tollerance is also an issue treated in this way.

it is all BS!!!

The one real successful program I saw (Dealing with bullying) used a multi-level approach. The recognized first a difference between "bullying" and routine confrontations. Kids who got into fights or who were observed "picking" on another kid were warned and watched. If a pattern developed, they were referred to counseling and given a low-level punishment. If the pattern continued, the police were brought in and the kids were put on a probationary status, any further incident resulted in expulsion and criminal charges. After a couple of individuals pushed ti to the end, the next three years saw no other incidents that went past the counselling stage. But, for a while, kids tried to use the system to exact revenge on other students. These were also dealt with as if they were bullies.

Tollerance is a tougher one. Most schools I know of are just going through the motions. Even the ones who are putting some real effort in are facing a problem with parents, community attitudes and, in the case of homosexuality, religion.

"In a pinch kids can get by without math-- they can just buy a calculator. But I wouldn't want them in society if they hadn't been screened for racism, sexism or other chauvinism. These are societal problems that have to be addressed by the schools, since the parents themselves are usually the source of the problem."

This attitude will be the downfall of the public school system. People like you who push this kind of an agenda is why more and more kids are in private schools or being home schooled. I would say that, in any situation, kids can get buy without the indoctronation stuff; as they have for centuries. But schools will not survive if the kids can't do basic math, reading and writing.

There are a lot of places where we can work on social issues, this is not the place for the school. One of the problems teachers complain about is all these programs.

"Prior to the 1930s we just had to teach kids how to read and comprehend, spell, understand grammar and syntax and write and how to understand math," one teacher told me years ago. "then they added P.E. and Music, which were good things. Then we added health, hygene and some basic reproduction education. Now, with all the programs, kids in the 4th grade often spend less than 4 of their 7 classroom hours working on core educational subjects. The time goes down as the kids get older. Now, tell me why our kids are doing worse every year on SATs, achievement tests and international equavalent testing? there are other problems, sure, but this one alone could fix a lot of the perceived educational ills."

"The indoctrination stuff"
What you seem to be saying is that you don't believe values should be taught in the public schools. And I will just have to differ on that.

If a teacher were to witness racist or other bigoted behavior on the part of some students against others, would the best course be to ignore it?

And even if there were no observable incidents, would it still be a good idea for schools to teach something about tolerance and the worth of all people-- even though they might be women, Muslims, black or gay?

You state a preference for school as it was conducted in the 1930s--- the three Rs and that's it. I think we have an environment today where a significant percentage of parents have abdicated teaching their children ethical lessons. In fact many are actively teaching, by example, lessons of dishonesty, bullying, abuse and tyranny.

I would rather see our schools become a little more pro-active-- even though this borders on (gasp!) sensitivity training. Time was when kids could get together and all kick the little Jew boy in the middle of the circle. And the grownups would leave them alone. I would as soon this tradition was made to recede into our colorful past.

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