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Which recent prohibition by the nation's schools has been the biggest mistake?

Columnist Petula Dvorak laments that thousands of children across the nation returned to school this year without the comfort of a carton of cold, chocolate yum on their cafeteria trays.

By Abha Bhattarai  |  September 16, 2010; 10:00 PM ET  | Category:  Local Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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My choice is the absence of any semblance of ACADEMIC STANDARDS, which was not an option in the poll.

Posted by: bselke | September 17, 2010 2:40 AM

I'll second the academic standards vote.

Posted by: grobinette | September 17, 2010 5:34 AM

The worst choice was the banning of Henry David Thoreau's full 35-page essay "On the Duty of Civil Disobedience." Way worse than banning any of these other things.

"Academic standards" is too broad. The likes of Mr. Duncan are always reassessing and disaggregating and otherwise messing with "academic standards." But the textbook corporations have removed all the words that cause young people to think.

Examples: Joe Hill's name appears once in passing in our "American History" books (other labor organizers, not at all). MLK's 1967 Riverside speech is wholly neglected. Many aspects of the disinformation moguls have been embraced at the expense of controversy and conflict.

We're so busy "standing together" in our "patriotism" we neglect to feed our children the "foods" that liberate them from repeating the prejudices of their ancestors.

They need to debate, argue, take up and defend positions on both sides of issues. The constant diet of going along and getting along is poison for democracy.

Posted by: dwyerj1 | September 17, 2010 6:19 AM

Field day with actual winners. Instead of everyone win's nonsense. We are raising a generation of kids who don't know what it's like to lose and want to win.

Posted by: chazwazzle | September 17, 2010 7:23 AM

What has been the worst ban? Science, failing, flunking, and tech skills comes to mind right away,but I believe that the worst of it was when they banned corporal punishment. A little as*-whupping and the fear of a little as* whupping can go a long, long, way.

Posted by: bproulx45 | September 17, 2010 8:09 AM

Your poll shows the ban on dodgeball as the biggest mistake...I rest my case.

Posted by: bproulx45 | September 17, 2010 8:11 AM

dodgeball was fun. it made the squaredancing section more bearable in elementary school.

I don't think anybody in the generations previous had any lifelong scars from dodgeball. I understand it wasn't everybodies favorite, but a good 75% + loved that game in my day.

Kids these days are too pampered. believe it or not dodgeball teaches some good life lessons.

Posted by: smmckenzie | September 17, 2010 9:00 AM

How about bans on Monopoly, because a cannnon (about an inch long) is one of the tokens for the game board?

How about gel pens?

Or hip-hugger apple-bottom jeans?

Or New York Yankees caps?

Or teacher unions and their deep-pocketed enemies in the media?

Posted by: bs2004 | September 17, 2010 9:36 AM

dodgeball is a bigger mistake than banning milk? Really? Reeaallyy? How much do you weigh?

Posted by: Nymous | September 18, 2010 3:24 AM

Hard to pick from these choices; they are all bad decisions. Dodgeball is my choice though as it encouraged actual movement and also taught that some win, some lose, and while you can get hit in life, you can get past it without permanent damage.

That said, academic standards and family involvement (too much by some parents and too little by others) are vital pieces that need fixing too.

Posted by: allenofwoodhaven | September 18, 2010 9:03 AM

Academic standards gets my vote as well and I refuse to vote on any of the other entries.

Posted by: glenglish | September 19, 2010 1:15 AM

I have to go with dodgeball. It's not so much the dogdeball itself as the reason it was banned -- because some kids are just losers, they're wussies, and they really should get used to it.

A perhaps well-meaning desire to prevent these children from feeling the loss of self-esteem they might likely experience at being such a loser gives them an inflated self-esteem they won't have earned .... some people are just losers.

Posted by: eezmamata | September 19, 2010 6:07 AM

The list of choices was inane, as several posters have remarked.

Bans on things like aspirin, the insanely tight controls on prescription medications, cough drops for pity's sake.

Bans on expessions of disapproved political opinions. Bans on religious expressions.

Believe me when I say I reject, loathe, and despise things like politically active evangelical protestantism...which is why I try to rigorously protect the rights of students (or evne adults) to engage in constitutionally protected activity of which I particularly disapprove. Do do otherwise mocks the very civil liberties one should strive to uphold.

I marvel, every election cycle, that the newly enfranchised young voters do not rise in their wrath at the polls and destroy the sitting school boards, who so casually impose upon the liberties of students. Heaven knows I recently reminded my own new voter that she wields that power now.

Posted by: paulhume | September 19, 2010 6:32 AM

Need more options or "none of the above". What you listed are all reasonable.

Posted by: trh123 | September 19, 2010 8:59 AM

What TRH123 said.

Posted by: cmckeonjr | September 19, 2010 9:49 AM

I'd vote for all of the above. How about if schools pay more attention to actually educating our children to compete in the real world than being over protective mommies? What a novel ... and useful... approach that would be!

Posted by: Lilycat11 | September 19, 2010 1:19 PM

"but I believe that the worst of it was when they banned corporal punishment. A little as*-whupping and the fear of a little as* whupping can go a long, long, way."

If my son attends a school where corporal punishment is allowed, I will tell the principal the same thing my mother told one of my principals: lay your hand on my child and I will lay my hand on you. If the principal thinks my son needs disciplining, s/he can call me and explain what transpired and I'LL decide whether it warrants a spanking. NOBODY but my wife and myself is allowed to physically discipline our child(ren).

Personally, I sided with taking out dodgeball - but chocolate milk was a close second. The fact of the matter is, in life, there are winners and losers in almost every facet of human activity. I believe that teaching children to cope with failure and, additionally, how to be graceful winners is every bit as important as any piece of academic knowledge - and I say that as someone with multiple college degrees.

I find ball-less 'dodgeball' to be patently ridiculous. Just do away with it altogether.

Posted by: SeaTigr | September 19, 2010 2:22 PM

This isn't right.

I'm all for healthier food in schools but the only thing really "unhealthy" about chocolate milk is that it has more calories. That might be bad for the kids who are over-weight but not for all of them.

I don't like milk and I never have. I don't drink it other than in cereal. The one exception is chocolate milk. I love the stuff.

When I was a kid, I probably took in a good portion of my calcium from chocolate milk. I never had any sort of weight issue (I'm rail thin and always have been) so that was never a problem.

Obesity is a major problem with our youth but malnutrition is not far beyond and they are NOT mutually exclusive. Someone can be tremendously fat and still lack vital nutrients because of their diet. Calcium is particularly important for kids because they're bones are growing and it's not right to deny those kids that might benefit from chocolate milk (they'll actually drink it) because other kids are too fat.

Why does this type of stuff always have to be one size fits all. At least as far as those kids whose meals are being paid for on the public dime, we could issue them a card to "pay" for it. Make up some sort of fitness test and if the kids can't pass it, put a marker on the card to keep them from "buying" sweets (including chocolate milk). If the kids get themselves into shape, they can have it reviewed.

Who knows? It might even motivate a few of them to run around the block a couple times!

Posted by: andrew23boyle | September 19, 2010 4:32 PM

My elementary school used to have cupcake day once a month. Mmmm,yummy, yummy. Those were my favorite days out of the entire school calendar barring the last day of school. And I was skinny as a toothpick as well as most other school kids in my day. Whoever banned cupcakes from schools is one sick, twisted, sick, sick puppy!!!

Posted by: forgetthis | September 19, 2010 7:08 PM

Since US schools rank near the bottom of the developed world in academic performance, perhaps a choice related to that might have been appropriate.

As it stands now, the poll is merely an advertising click-magnet which flogs the same old sensationalized populist themes: heaping ridicule on bona fide efforts to slow the obesity epidemic and curb school bullying.

Posted by: vfr2dca | September 19, 2010 7:50 PM

Ban religious bullying like a coach in the South taking his players to be baptized or teachers in Utah asking who in the class is not LDS. Ban Catholic chruches from a six block radius of a middle school until they turn over the perverts hiding under the Pope's $10000 white dress to civil authorities for prosecution. Ban teabagger abstinence and creationism programs. Ban the entire state of Texas from having any credentials in other states or universities for their Glenn Beck Christian revisionism.

Posted by: areyousaying | September 19, 2010 9:29 PM

The arts...which are not so much being banned as budgeted out of existence...Huge mistake with long-term impact.

Posted by: PanhandleWilly | September 19, 2010 9:33 PM

It's stunning...stunning...that there are still people arguing for there being ANY benefit to dodge ball. It's cruel and stupid. If the ONLY way to find physical activity is in a game that so many kids view as torturous shows we've lost any grasp on imagination. There are plenty of ways to get kids moving without involving fear of physical pain.
I loved dodge ball...but refuse to treat those who didn't as if their opinion didn't matter. There's a word for that...bullying.
Yes, we DO do more to build up the self-image of kids these days. And anyone who thinks that's a bad thing...well, I cannot understand what is going on in the head of a person who WANTS a small child to feel worthless. I just don't get it. But thank God people with a little more sense seem to run most of the schools.
I don't think anyone's harmed in the slightest, and there are significant benefits, to most of the rest of these. I could see an argument for chocolate milk, if it gets kids drinking more milk but there's not a single remotely positive reason for any of the others.
That said, while there are reasons for all of these to be gone, there was one suggestion far far more destructive than even dodge balls smashing off the faces of the less physically active and large kids...and that is "flunking". This idea among some without much knowledge of education that it somehow BENEFITS anyone to have kids fail rears its ugly head time to time, as if we merely let kids pass from grade to grade without noticing they've fallen behind. In fact, nothing of the sort happens. A kid in 4th grade with 2nd or 1st grade reading level can receive reading recovery, summer school, any number of plans to help. Merely repeating the same grade and same tactics that DIDN'T work last time, while forcing the child to sit through classes they HAVE learned, spend the rest of their school life without the appropriate age kids around, isn't right for the kid from an academic or social standard. Being "let back" just once makes a kid twice as likely to not ever graduate, a kid "flunked" twice has almost no chance at all.
I really wonder where our humanity is. People want kids "flunked," want weaker kids bashed at dodge ball, whine about "unapproved political views" being banned because they're hateful and cruel to others. You weep for the poor kids who cannot express homophobia without the slightest concern for the kids being driven to suicide by bullying and harrassment? Worry more for the "right" to wear racist symbols than for the kids being insulted by them?

Where the hell is our humanity? It's bad enough our society is so damn hateful, can't we let our kids have a decent start before subjecting them to bigotry and hate and violence? It doesn't make us "tougher", just more heartless. And that's not a good thing.

Posted by: columbiamocowboy | September 21, 2010 8:33 AM

Oh, and one more thing...I've been involved with FCA and other Christian groups, helped set up Muslim Student Organizations and Zen sitting groups. The idea that religious expression has been banned is malarky. The ONLY thing not allowed is the school itself expressing religion, which is obviously unconstitutional and wrong.
I remember 1st grade. We were all stood up, recited the pledge of allegience, and then the Lord's Prayer. I'd been raised a Christian and had no problem with it, my best friend didn't go to church and thought it was kinda dumb but really wasn't too worked up one way or the other. But this one girl, who was kinda shy and quiet anyway was always noticably uncomfortable about the whole thing. Turns out she was Jewish.
A Jewish kid, 5 or 6 years old, being made to EITHER stand and recite a prayer she doesn't believe in, to deny her family's faith, a faith which has been attacked and hated and abused practically from the dawn of time...or stand up to a teacher and classroom full of Oklahoma Baptists. It's a hard call for a grown up, to take a timid 6 year old girl and put her in that place...

well, my friends, take it from me--there is nothing remotely Christ-like about it.

And it damn well isn't American.

Posted by: columbiamocowboy | September 21, 2010 8:44 AM

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