Letters to the Editor

Piling on

October 19, 2007


To the editor:

I read the newspaper article regarding the obesity epidemic in children. In the first paragraph it says " : where they spend much of their time - in school." The children spend less than 10 percent of their time in school and 90 percent of their time with parents and family. What role do parents have in this obesity problem?

It seems society wants to take more parenting responsibilities from parents and place it on educators. In the schools today, teachers are responsible for:

¢ correcting disruptive behavior.

¢ observing for signs of abuse.

¢ monitoring dress codes.

¢ censoring T-shirt messages.

¢ checking backpacks for weapons.

¢ waging the war on drugs and sexually transmitted diseases.

¢ raising individual self esteem and personal pride.

¢ instilling patriotism and good citizenship.

¢ teaching good sportsmanship and fair play.

¢ how to balance a check book and apply for a job.

¢ how to register to vote.

¢ checking heads for lice.

¢ recognizing signs of antisocial behavior.

¢ ensuring each child meets the standards of NCLB.

¢ providing equal education regardless of handicaps.

¢ providing routine feedback to parents via phone, e-mail or in person.

Where will it end?

Ken Phipps,



number3of5 10 years, 7 months ago

Nicely put, Teachers should not have to do parenting. But since parents are to busy trying to, as my dad would have put it, "keeping up with the Joneses", to care about parenting, and the government keeps tying parents hands on discipline, I guess teachers are the last resort. Parents need to take back the responsiblity for parenting their children.

Ragingbear 10 years, 7 months ago

~~The children spend less than 10 percent of their time in school and 90 percent of their time with parents and family.~~

In what mythical imaginary land are your kids going to school in? I always thought that school lasted for 8 hours a day, not 2.4 hours a day (which is ten percent of of a day). Let us not forget the time it takes for transportation to and from on one of those stinky buses, or any of the after school classes.

I award you no points. You fail.

jonas 10 years, 7 months ago

"Thank you, and I think today will be a wonderful day of debate and discussion on LJW On-Line, an award-winning forum."

Yes, you got it off to a great start, as normal.

oldvet 10 years, 7 months ago

RT... correction on your math... assuming your numbers of 36 weeks and 8 hours are correct...

School - 36 weeks x 5 days x 8 hours = 1440 hours

Total - 52 weeks x 7 days x 24 hours = 8736 hours

School - 16.5%

Home - 83.5%

sourpuss 10 years, 7 months ago

"Secular-progressives want to devalue the family and empower educators even more to indoctrinate our kids into being good little leftists robots."

I think parents are devaluing themselves by commuting 2+ hours a day to have a bigger house, letting their children have their own TVs in their own rooms, and not being active participants in their lives because they are more concerned with their own careers or relationships. I don't think politics have anything to do with your parenting decisions.

As for teacher responsibilities, teachers are there to teach, and teaching is the most important thing. There is such a disrespect for education in this country already, which I still blame on parents. Of course, they didn't want to learn and they don't really care if their kids learn much either, as long as they can grow up and be like them.

Richard Heckler 10 years, 7 months ago

Yes parents should bear far more responsibility for their childrens health. However the school district can be a valid partner and ditch the vending machines that make them money on crappy products with parents supporting the move away from crappy products. Let the parents send the products of choice with their children.

And: parents can teach the value of exercise through walking,swimming and bike riding and so can the school district. Surely more childen could walk or ride bikes to school even high schoolers. See Sunflower Bikes , Cycleworks or the new used bike shop in North Lawrence. both as a team can support whole food diets ...yes at home and school *both as a team can support the consumption of water (not in plastic please). The amount of money spent on water in plastic could easily buy washable refillable containers.

Richard Heckler 10 years, 7 months ago

Oh yes on rainy days bright colored rain gear and or bright colored umbrellas will allow walking to school. We lived several blocks( almost a mile) from school which I must say was more fun biking or walking than to travel with parents.

Demand more wide sidewalks and hiking/biking avenues!!!

Tony Kisner 10 years, 7 months ago

Spot on Ken, a solution to the issue is for parents to receive a voucher and make the choice for themselves. Choosing a school that provides what they want rather than what is dictated to them.

I love these guys who are for school choice.

moo 10 years, 7 months ago

The thing is, there is no way to standardize parenting. Unless we institute some sort of law requiring parents to be good parents (and then somehow define a "good parent") it is simply impossible to require that every child have a good home, with parents who care enough and know enough to protect their children's health. However, if we can, we should make up for this in schools. School IS a relatively standardized experience, a place that all children must go, and for this reason it is an ideal place to try to teach not just the "three R's" but also healthy life choices. This has nothing to do with devaluing the family or even trying to take responsibility for such education away from parents. Instead, it is about providing kids who aren't lucky enough to have parents who can or will help them make good choices about their lives (i.e. what food they eat) with the information that they need to make good choices on their own. Since we can't feasibly require parents to do this on their own, where will we teach kids if not in school? And there is just no reason to make these choices more difficult by having vending machines and unhealthy lunches in schools.

ontheotherhand 10 years, 7 months ago

What I want to know, is right_thinker a Christian? Everytime he responds to someone who disagrees with him, he degrades their name in some way. I don't think that is very Christ-like (I do not think the prophet Jesus would have done this), but I do think it is very Christian. In fact, he sort of exemplifies today's Christian: mean, single-issue, quick to name-call, acidic, narrow interpretation of life, believes that the Bible really was written by God 2000 years ago (and is still accurate) but cannot accurately remember a historical event 3 years ago, and so on. Sorry, but I guess I don't see the value or benefit to being a Christian, except that you can be hateful to people and hide behind the cloak of "religious protection." Oh, and you get to spend your entire life preparing for the Afterlife by driving the rest of us to Hell on Earth. I'll bet there are some nice Christians out there; I just can't find any.

jonas 10 years, 7 months ago

Right-Thinker says: "That hurts"

Sure it does. Your victimization act is much poorer than your self-righteous conservative act. You should drop it, because its somewhat embarrassing to watch. Just a suggestion, I certainly don't want to seem "intolerant," or like I'm forcing you into compliance.

O-Bob: My guess is that R-T's posts give them a good and visible straw man to rip apart. I mean, why would you go after insightful posts that could illuminate the flaws in your own side's argument, when you can attack someone who's constantly just stereotyping huge groups of people in order to provoke reactions? R-T gets to insult liberals, liberals get to seem intellectually superior when they rip his paper thin bait to shreds. It's either a win-win or a lose-lose, but at least everyone gets the same thing out of it.

ontheotherhand 10 years, 7 months ago

Interesting that this is the only one you picked out. :) Sorry, but as I was creating the list, I began to generalize how I define Christians. I will tell you the next time you do this (I PROMISE!); right now, I don't have time to go back to all that you have said in order to prove my point (too much to do at the office today!!!). I would love to hear how our more astutue readers would respond to your question. :)

Does this mean you are agreeing with me on all of the other counts? (I am asking you this with a half-smile on my face, btw.) :)

redneckwoman 10 years, 7 months ago

"Nicely put, Teachers should not have to do parenting. But since parents are to busy trying to, as my dad would have put it, "keeping up with the Joneses", to care about parenting, and the government keeps tying parents hands on discipline, I guess teachers are the last resort. Parents need to take back the responsiblity for parenting their children."

I agree!

I can't afford "twinkie's". The little kids throw fits when they can't have them.(my teenager has got the point) They go to their rooms until they except the cheese or fruit. Homemade sweets are saved for after dinner. It's a good way to get them to eat a health dinner. "No desert until you clean your plate!" I can afford homemade because I already use the flour, baking soda, etc. for my homemade dinners. I tried the no pop thing but some others ruined that so it's just 1 a day. Oh wait, some don't agree with the way my family eats. But you know what it's working because not one of us it over weight by any means and we're all hardly ever sick.

Richard Heckler 10 years, 7 months ago

The schools could serve non-sweet cereals,Grape nuts/Raisin Bran/Corn Flakes/honey sweetened granola, for lunch with fresh fruits on the side such as apples,oranges,bananas and Kiwi( a ton of vitamin C). Or a green salad. Why not? Students spend most of their time thereafter sitting. Eating whole grain cereals twice a day is actually considered quite healthy.

Lots of water during the course of the day.

Athletes could get Mom or Dad to pack them something heavier for later in the day.

mom_of_three 10 years, 7 months ago

Some posters have already mentioned that kids spend 50% of their waking hours at school during the week.
Some teachers are also responsible for not letting kids have recess (i.e. -exercise) because they have misbehaved or have to make up a test or need help with an assignment.
Teachers sometimes spend as much time with students as their parents do. Teachers have been doing the things on the list for years - it's nothing new. Teachers reinforce at school what parents are supposed to teach at home - fair play, drug awareness, etc. It's not like these behaviors he lists are not happening at school or during school activities. It's where most of these things occur.

Not quite understanding why he doesn't think teachers shouldn't help with the obesity issue by limiting sugar stuff at school.

cfdxprt 10 years, 7 months ago


You mentioned a new/used bike store in N. Lawrence. Can you give more details, I'm currently shopping for a bike for my nephew?

a_flock_of_jayhawks 10 years, 7 months ago

RT says, "Secular-progressives want to devalue the family and empower educators even more to indoctrinate our kids into being good little leftists robots. Everyone has heard of Hillary Clinton's "It Takes a Village":..excellent Socialist dogma."

That's ridiculous. The trend toward our schools and teachers being responsible for more and more aspects of our children's lives started long before Hillary was even in kindergarten. It is what the people want. They wanted those items added to the list and demanded that their school boards do it. As a former school board trustee, I can tell you from experience: just try taking any of those items away and see the parents reaction. And this happened in a highly conservative community.

You might ask how I was elected in such a community given my political views. I guess every now and then, even they end up getting something correct ;) Honestly, they were all wonderful people, regardless of their political stripe.

oldvet says. "School - 36 weeks x 5 days x 8 hours = 1440 hours

Total - 52 weeks x 7 days x 24 hours = 8736 hours"

CORRECTIONS: cumulative, annual school - 1440 hours sleep - 52 weeks x 7 days x 8 hours = 2912 hours total - 8736 hours

school = 17% sleep = 33% home (awake) = 50%

considering only the weeks while school is in session school - 40 hours / week sleep - 56 hours / week total - 168 hours / week total waking hours - 112 hours / week

school = 36% home (awake) = 64%

My point being that you are including sleeping hours in the calculation, but I doubt that there is any parenting that actually occurs during that time, so it should be removed from the calculation. So, through my corrections, parents have the opportunity to parent their children while school is in session roughly 2 hours for every 1 hour spent in school, with a good portion of that occurring on the weekend rather than evenings. I realize that your point is to counter the assertion by Mr. Phipps that children spend less than 10% of their time in school, and I agree. Just wanted to refine the numbers a bit for clarity.

Richard Heckler 10 years, 7 months ago


The used bike shop is immediately over the bridge next door to the gaslight lounge which is across the "alley" south of Johnny's Tavern.

cfdxprt 10 years, 7 months ago


Tnx, I know exactly where the gaslight is, I watch some of my favorite bluegrass bands there. I will definitely check the shop out.

bearded_gnome 10 years, 7 months ago

merrill, you detestable subhuman.
no one should give one second's attention to what you say. you praise those blowing up our troops in iraq, and you laud broken streets as helping in our traffic constipation...you call it traffic calming. you're on the traffic safety commission, yet you obviously are simply opposed to people driving. you have made the ridiculous claim that building the slt will cause people to drive more, instead of it relieving congestion.

no one should attend to anything you write.

a_flock_of_jayhawks 10 years, 7 months ago

to take the daily calculation a step further, consider a typical school day:

8 hours sleeping 8 hours of school 8 hours home, etc.

Half of the waking hours are spent at school and the other half is spent elsewhere, possibly at home. What are parents doing to effectively use half of the school day? Some take advantage of the opportunity to its fullest. Some take advantage of a portion of that opportunity. Some do very little with it. Some wonder why they should be burdened with the "opportunity", that the school should be able to give them what they need through their attendance, no joke.

Mr. Phipps asks where it will end. As long as the basic set of skills that we as a society deem are essential to life in our society increases, the answer is that it won't end. Kansas legislature put a price on the task and it was unrealistically low. With the set of tasks that Mr. Phipps outlined and many others that are part of it but not listed, is it a surprise that it takes a huge budget to support it? If that's too much, then what would you take out? If items are taken out and relegated to parents who won't do them anyway, who is harmed? The children. The people in society that they deal with, bad or good. The businesses that might employ them. yadda yadda.

RT happened to mention "It Takes a Village". I can remember when, and you can still see it today in some smaller communities, most people in a community knew each other and talked to one another. If some child was acting up, the parents and other children in the community - village, if you will - sometimes found ways of getting through to the wayward child to try to get them back on track.

RT blasts it as dogma, etc. But, despite the fact that those community efforts are not always successful, isn't it part of what made past generations of Americans great?

Easy Does It advocates vouchers as the solution. It's not. Merely providing a choice will not increase or even maintain the set of student needs that are currently on the table. Instead, it is a tax-paid windfall for the religious institutions, who are the bulk of the private schools, at the expense of the students that are not in private schools. Let's call it what it is...a pander to the religious right. Not a good idea.

Terry Jacobsen 10 years, 7 months ago

The real answer to childhood obesity is to mount computer games and video games on bicycles, and make them work only when the pedals on the bike are being used. Blow-up all other forms of video games and computers.

altarego 10 years, 7 months ago

Pile on the wings! Pile on the beer! Obesity is not a laughing matter! Let's go to Hooters!

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