Have a Heart for Kids Day rally, 2015

An equal start to the school day

Adam 01/28/15

 

From left: Sandra Schafer, teacher in Highline School District, with Aki Kurose middle school students Elena Uncango and Ashley Clark and Aki Kurose staff member Rayonna Tobin. They traveled from Seattle to Olympia Wednesday to voice their support for House Bill 1295 / Senate Bill 5437.

One of the most treasured parts of our state Constitution is Article IX, section 1, the guarantee for Washington families of a basic education for their children.

As courts, governing officials, parents and policymakers now know, we have fallen short in this promise to kids. 

One of the ways that educational inequity shows up in the lives of children is when local tax levies help schools with higher-value property raise more money. America’s legacy of racial discrimination restricted children of color to poorer communities. Because of this, the schools that are financially under-resourced are tasked with educating the children most vulnerable to household hunger. This disparity is another feature of the opportunity gap between children of color and children in low-income families and kids growing up in more affluent school districts.

We can do something, this session, to close that gap by passing House Bill 1295 / Senate Bill 5437, ensuring that more children in high-poverty areas have the fuel to learn all day.

These bills would guarantee that breakfast is included as part of the school day in schools where at least 7 in 10 students qualify for free or reduced-price meals. 

That’s a great way to close the educational opportunity gap. Schools in which kids eat a healthy breakfast are better schools. When a school serves breakfast as part of the school day, studies have shown that kids:

Are healthier and hunger-free;

Have fewer incidents of misbehavior;

Do better in school;

Miss fewer school days.

On Tuesday, January 27, educators, school nutritionists, and students told state legislators that Breakfast After the Bell is a smart way to improve our schools.

Here’s what Elena Uncango, a student at Seattle’s Aki Kurose Middle School, told legislators on Tuesday:

“Students at Aki who come in late are already stressed, and missing breakfast increases stress.” School administrators at Aki Kurose have implemented a “grab-and-go” breakfast: there, students stop by the cafeteria and take their meal to the classroom.

“Grab-and-go provides kids with the opportunity to pick up breakfast,” said Elena. “It works.”

The Breakfast After the Bell bill has support from dozens of leading organizations throughout the state including the Washington Education Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the League of Education Voters, the Equity in Education Coalition, and Stand for Children – Washington.

Stay tuned for ways to help get kids off on the right start.