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In the classic bootstraps approach of state and federal lawmakers who don’t understand poverty, TN state senator Stacey Campfield sponsored a bill that would cut welfare benefits of parents whose children performed poorly in school unless those parents either a) attended two parent/teacher conferences – difficult to impossible to do for a single parent who works two jobs just to keep her family fed b) arranged tutoring – who’s going to pay for that if the parent is already on welfare? or c) signed their child up for summer school – Is that something a parent can just choose to do on their own? Doesn’t the school have a voice in the matter? At any rate, the bill seemed, to me, to be ill-conceived, and it was with much relief that I read in a later article (includes video) that, facing backlash from his own party, Senator Campfield withdrew the legislation “for further study.”

Michelle Obama has been pushing for healthier school lunches for quite some time. Changes she pushed for in the National School Lunch Program, while controversial, have resulted in the serving of fewer processed items, more fruits and vegetables, and less sodium. It’s no secret that students who eat well are better able to focus in class, learn better, and generally achieve better academic results. Interestingly, small changes can have a big effect on students’ food choices, and in today’s budget strapped school systems, sometimes small changes are the best we can manage.

Middle school. Remember it? Chaotic. Intense. Confusing. Days filled with drama and laughter, gossip and angst. Parents sometimes roll their eyes at their children’s stories of sturm and drang, but it’s important to recognize that the relationships kids form in middle school can influence the ones they’ll form as adults.

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