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The cupcake rule: Another denial of choice

June 01. 2013 1:56AM

The Manchester School Board's decision to limit in-class birthday celebrations to once a month not because they distract from learning - but because kids might eat more than one cupcake or other sweet treat in a month's time - is offensive in so many ways that it is hard to decide where to begin the denunciation.

Schools must draw lines. They could not function otherwise. Some things that are permissible off campus are banned or restricted on campus for understandable reasons.

Kids cannot carry pocket knives to class or wear clothes that would disrupt classroom decorum. But cupcakes?

The school board reasoned that cupcakes are unhealthy, the schools should promote good health, therefore the board must restrict in-class cupcake consumption to once a month. Never mind that school cafeterias serve pizza and burgers. Never mind that the board has actually banned things that look like high-fat treats (how does a teacher tell a low-fat cupcake from a high-fat one?) This edict is offensive because it protects children from their own parents.

Additionally, aside from fighting obesity, the board wanted to adopt this policy to conform with federal guidelines that require school districts to have wellness policies. If they do not, they lose their school lunch subsidies. A board member pointed out that kids can get cakes at school bake sales. The school's consulting nutritionist said that is because "At this time, they're not asking us to address (that)." At this time.

It is bad enough that we simply kneel and obey overly restrictive federal rules rather than challenge them. Now we preemptively kneel and obey. The feds do not require the cupcake restriction. But sweets are discouraged, and our school board knows how to take its cues from Washington.

Next comes the ban (probably preemptive) on all pleasurable treats at school bake sales, in brown-bag lunches and at stadium and gymnasium concession stands. Popcorn at the football game? A cake at the bake sale? A cookie with lunch? Sorry, kids. The state does not trust your parents to make dessert decisions. Here is a carrot; eat up.

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