Posts Tagged ‘ Connecticut ’

Connecticut Considers School Chocolate Milk Ban

Monday, May 19th, 2014

Connecticut legislators have sent to the governor a measure that would prohibit public schools from offering chocolate milk and some juices to children, citing the beverages’ links to imbalanced nutrition when it comes to fat, salt, and sugar.  More from CBS News:

If he signs it, Connecticut would be the first state in the country — not just a single school district –to ban chocolate milk in school cafeterias. The law would go into effect next September.

Politicians in the state faced pressure to pass school nutrition rules or risk forfeiting funds from the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, a federal policy that sets requirements for the United States Department of Agriculture’s Nutrition Programs, which includes its school lunch program. However, the USDA points out that the Act does not ban individual food items. A USDA spokesperson told CBS News that it does require flavored milks to be non-fat.

Under the state proposal, schools in Connecticut would only be allowed to serve low-fat, unflavored milk and beverages without artificial sweeteners, added sodium or more than four grams of sugar per ounce.

Chocolate milk contains high fructose corn syrup and up to 200 milligrams of sodium, which means it won’t make the cut.

Some child nutritionists think the proposed law will backfire and jeopardize the health of children in the state. Jill Castle, a registered dietician and nutritionist from New Canaan, Conn., told CBS affiliate WFSB that when chocolate milk is removed from the cafeteria the overall consumption of milk goes down.

“From a nutrient profile, you’re getting calcium, vitamin D, potassium, phosphorous, protein, and other nutrients,” said Castle.

But some food experts disagree. Marlene Schwartz, director of Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, says the ban means that the food industry will simply need to adjust.

“This isn’t going to keep out flavored milk,” Schwartz told the Hartford Courant. “All it’s going to do it make sure the flavored milk that’s in there is not going to have added salt.”

Make mornings easier with our Healthy Breakfast On-The-Go guide.

Nutrition Labels: 3 Things To Avoid
Nutrition Labels: 3 Things To Avoid
Nutrition Labels: 3 Things To Avoid

Image: Chocolate milk, via Shutterstock

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‘Zero Tolerance’ School Suspension Policy Debated Post-Newtown

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

Schools are increasingly debating the value of “zero tolerance” policies of suspending students who make threats in even the most unassuming ways.  In the wake of the tragic Newtown, Connecticut school shooting late last year, some parents are jittery and want school officials to enforce the zero tolerance policy.  Others, however believe that the policies discourage children from finding healthy ways to express anger.  More from The Associated Press:

The extent to which the Newtown, Conn., shooting might influence educators’ disciplinary decisions is unclear. But parents contend administrators are projecting adult fears onto children who know little about the massacre of 20 first-graders and six educators, and who certainly pose no threat to anyone.

‘‘It’s horrible what they’re doing to these kids,’’ said Kelly Guarna, whose 5-year-old daughter, Madison, was suspended by Mount Carmel Area School District in eastern Pennsylvania last month for making a ‘‘terroristic threat’’ with the bubble gun. ‘‘They’re treating them as mini-adults, making them grow up too fast, and robbing them of their imaginations.’’

Mary Czajkowski, superintendent of Barnstable Public Schools in Hyannis, Mass., acknowledged that Sandy Hook has teachers and parents on edge. But she defended Hyannis West Elementary School’s warning to a 5-year-old boy who chased his classmates with a gun he’d made from plastic building blocks, saying the student didn’t listen to the teacher when she told him repeatedly to stop.

The school told his mother if it happened again, he’d face a two-week suspension.

‘‘Given the heightened awareness and sensitivity, we must do all that we can to ensure that all students and adults both remain safe and feel safe in schools,’’ Czajkowski said in a statement. ‘‘To dismiss or overlook an incident that results in any member of our school community feeling unsafe or threatened would be irresponsible and negligent.’’

Image: School sign, via Shutterstock

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Post-Newtown Debate Turns to Whether to Arm School Security

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

School officials across the country are contemplating the horrific events of last week’s shooting spree at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut and asking the question, how can we keep our schools safe? Parents tend to have very strong opinions on the broader question of whether teachers should ever be armed. But a more measured question–whether schools should hire armed security guards–is capturing more attention as the days unfold. The debate is playing out across social media, across dinner tables, and, as The New York Times reports, among school board members nationwide:

“Across the country, some 23,200 schools — about one-third of all public schools — had armed security staff in the 2009-10 school year, the most recent year for which data are available.

Now, in the wake of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, school officials across the nation are reviewing security protocols, including lockdown drills and building entry procedures, but also whether to hire more armed guards.

These questions arise amid a broader political and societal debate about gun control. While some people view the prospect of bringing additional guns into schools as fueling a culture of violence, others say children need the protection.

On Sunday, a former education secretary, William J. Bennett, indicated on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he would support such measures. “I’m not so sure I wouldn’t want one person in a school armed, ready for this kind of thing,” said Mr. Bennett, who served under President Ronald Reagan.

With national sentiment starting to move in favor of stricter gun laws, Gov. Rick Snyder of Michigan vetoed a bill on Tuesday that state lawmakers had passed just a day before the shootings in Newtown, allowing registered gun owners to carry concealed weapons in schools. But also on Tuesday, a legislator in South Carolina introduced a similar bill that would allow school employees to carry guns in schools.

The question of whether to place trained security guards with guns in schools is left up to local districts. These officers are charged with protecting students not just from intruders but also from each other. They often conduct classes in preventing gang violence or bullying, as well as handle more prosaic tasks like issuing traffic tickets.

According to the Council of the Great City Schools, cities including Albuquerque, Baltimore, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami and St. Louis have armed officers in schools, either contracting with local police forces or recruiting their own dedicated security staff. Other cities, including Boston and New York, place unarmed security officers in schools. Sandy Hook Elementary did not have a security guard on campus.”

Image: School hallway, via Shutterstock

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Newtown Kindergarten, First-Grade Teacher’s Stories Reveal Heroism

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

The heroes of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting were, everyone agrees, the teachers, many of whom gave their lives in efforts to protect their students. The story of kindergarten teacher Janet Vollmer and first-grade teacher Kristen Roig, who survived the attacks, are among the inspiring stories. From CNN:

Kindergarten teacher Janet Vollmer knows at least half of the killed children.

“Ten of them were in my class last year,” she told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Sunday. “It’s tough. It’s tough.”

When the shots rang out, Vollmer locked her classroom door, covered the windows, including the one in the door, then took the children into a nook between bookcases and a wall.

She read them a story to keep them calm.

“They kept saying ‘How come we’re here for so long?’ ‘Well, it will be a little longer.’ ” she answered. “When they’re 5, you do whatever you can to keep them safe and keep them calm.”

“We’re going to be safe,” Vollmer told them, “because we’re sitting over here and we’re all together.”

First-grade teacher Kristen Roig herded her students into a bathroom, locked the door and told them not to make a peep.

They got impatient, antsy, wanted someone to go out and see what was happening. No, she told them. She was afraid they would all die.

“If they started crying, I would take their face and tell them, ‘It’s going to be OK.’ I wanted that to be the last thing they heard,” she said, “not the gunfire in the hall.”

The wait dragged on, Vollmer said.

“Maybe it was 20 minutes, a half-hour; I’m not sure.”

Police knocked at the door to take them all out. They instructed her to have the schoolchildren hold hands and close their eyes.

“At 5, it’s not so easy to close your eyes and walk,” Vollmer said. “So I had them look toward the wall.” They all had to be brave.

For more on Parents.com about the Sandy Hook Tragedy, visit the following:

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Newtown Tragedy Reveals Parents’ Disagreements on Gun Control

Monday, December 17th, 2012

After the Newtown, Connecticut mass shooting, virtually every American has weighed in with their opinions about gun control and whether access to guns should be restricted or protected. Parents, as NBC news reports, are divided on the issue, perhaps surprisingly so:

“Some parents turned their shock and grief into arguments for stricter gun laws, but others say it’s time to think seriously about protecting Second Amendment rights, and maybe even arm teachers so that adults can defend students against attacks like this.

“I do feel that those kids would have been better protected, more lives would have been saved, if someone had had some type of weapon at the school,” says Jillian Mae Hagle, of Tahlequah, Okla., the mother of a 1-year-old.

Other parents say the school shooting is a wake-up call for stricter gun control.

Bruce Ditman, father of Mila, 7, and Sam, 3, lives about half hour from Newtown.

“I like guns,” he says. “We have Nerf swords and guns in my house and gun control has never been something I’ve been hung up on.” Until Friday, when he watched children the same age as his, and parents just like him, suffer unspeakable pain and loss. Now he says enough is enough.

“We, as a country, have lost our privileges and proven ourselves undeserving of the type of freedom and access to weaponry we think we deserve,” he explains.

For some parents, Friday’s tragedy awakened memories of their own loss. Elaine Rondeau of Marietta, Ga., said she sobbed and sobbed when she heard the news – just like she does every time she learns of another mass shooting.

She and her husband Gordon lost their 29-year-old daughter Renee on Halloween night in 1994, when she was held at gunpoint, robbed, and then strangled in her Chicago apartment.

“Because of this powerful weapon, this gun in their hands,” Elaine Rondeau says, “these criminals were able to hold our daughter captive, and kill her. If they hadn’t had the gun, they never would have been able to get in in the first place.”

Rondeau said the Connecticut tragedy makes her frustrated that, in her opinion, there’s been no real progress on gun control since her daughter’s death 18 years ago.

In fact, Connecticut has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation.  Under Connecticut law, people under 21 are prohibited from purchasing or carrying handguns. Adam Lanza was 20. There are conflicting reports about how many weapons Lanza used during the shooting and how he got them. At one point, law enforcement officials told NBC News that Lanza had four handguns while he stalked the halls of Sandy Hook, but that could not be confirmed. It appears he carried at least two 9mm handguns, in addition to a rifle, which was the primary weapon.”

For more about the Sandy Hook tragedy, visit the following on Parents.com:

Image: Gun with safety switch, via Shutterstock

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