Thursday, April 30, 2009

Old Op-Ed: Charter Schools for Obese Kids

This commentary was written by yours truly and published in Education Week in February. I wasn't blogging then, so I couldn't share it. Enjoy!

Facing Up to the Obesity Problem
How Charter Schooling Might Help

My middle school guidance counselor always seemed to have good intentions. So I expected only more lovely conversation when she called me into her office one afternoon. Instead, she offered an unsolicited bit of financial advice: "Monica, you have a single mom. You need to stop gaining weight so she can stop buying you so many new clothes. It's expensive."

This guilt trip was a miserable flop. It earned the counselor a spot on my now-discarded list of "People Who Get No Part of My Eventual Millions." And it failed to deter me from gaining at least 50 pounds during the rest of middle school. (Unbeknownst to her, my mother enjoyed shopping for me.)

I was fortunate to have self-confidence, familial support, and academic capacity, which together insulated me at least partially from this and other embarrassing encounters. For many obese kids, however, stigma makes it hard to thrive academically or to adopt healthier habits. Schools often make obese kids feel worse about themselves, and their unhappiness undermines their success. For that reason, we should consider establishing charter schools that target children who struggle against obesity.

Read the rest of the piece here.

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