Some districts balk at latest serving of school lunch rules

Robert Gebelhoff:

Salty chips. Candy bars. Full-calorie sodas.

Don’t expect to find any of this in schools anymore — not in hot lunches, not in vending machines, not even in high school snack bars.

Schools across the nation are preparing to work with stricter standards for nutrition from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as part of a nationwide campaign championed by first lady Michelle Obama to eliminate empty calories. The new standards took effect Tuesday for all schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program and will build off previously implemented standards that limited serving sizes and restricted what food was healthy enough for the program.

What can students expect to find? Wheat bread, low-calorie drinks, meals with limited sugar, fat and salt.

Some district officials are saying they’re all for healthy food, but they have to sell enough hot lunches to break even on their program — and that won’t work if the kids shun the food. They also are a little prickly about federal officials telling them what to do.

“We believe that proper food nutrition and meal portion guidelines are best decided at a local level,” said Rick Petfalski, School Board president for the Muskego-Norway School District.

Opting out of the program means Muskego-Norway will no longer receive federal money for its meals, but it also means the district is free to serve whatever it wants.

Already losing money because fewer kids were buying the meals, the district will now have to cover the cost of free and reduced lunches on its own. It will do this partly by spending less on foods that students don’t eat and — they believe — increasing the number of kids buying lunches by providing tastier meals.

Hothouse kids have a chance to cool off

Patti Waldmeir::

It is summer in the land of the midnight Tiger Mum, the gruelling Chinese school year has finally drawn to a close, and mainland children are recovering from late-night homework projects by doing what? Attending summer school.

According to a recent survey by the Shanghai Education Commission, one-third of the city’s students wish they had less homework over the summer holiday. It is a remarkable testament to the mainland’s culture of education that the other two-thirds did not immediately agree: half just said they wanted homework that was less boring.

Of course summer schools are in full swing throughout the northern hemisphere now, not just in study-crazy China. Pre-school grads around the world are sweating it out in summer school because someone told their tiger parents that it would give them a jump on kindergarten.

Disruption Ahead: What MOOCs Will Mean for MBA Programs

Knowledge @ Wharton:

In a new research paper, Christian Terwiesch, professor of operations and information management at Wharton, and Karl Ulrich, vice dean of innovation at the school, examine the impact that massive open online courses (MOOCs) will have on business schools and MBA programs. In their study — titled, “Will Video Kill the Classroom Star? The Threat and Opportunity of MOOCs for Full-time MBA Programs” — they identify three possible scenarios that business schools face not just as a result of MOOCs, but also because of the technology embedded in them. In an intereview with Knowledge@Wharton, Terwiesch and Ulrich discuss their findings.

An edited transcript of the interview appears below.

Knowledge@Wharton: Christian, perhaps you could start us off by describing the main findings or takeaways from your research?

Terwiesch: Let me preface what we’re going to discuss about business schools by saying that Karl and I have been in the business school world for many, many years. We love this institution, and we really want to make sure that we find a sustainable path forward for business schools.

Business schools in the world of these massive online courses are somewhat threatened, and a lot of that has to do with our cost structure. We are very expensive organizations. There are two main reasons for that. We do two things. We teach and we do research, but only the teaching part comes with revenues, and so often, the research work that we do, all this great research work that is funded for us, is funded by our students. The second thing is, honestly, like most non-profits, we don’t always have an eye on efficiency. If you and I were running an airline together and we were to fly our planes half empty, very quickly, bad things might start to happen. Yet that culture of efficiency and productivity is something that we haven’t had in the business schools. As these MOOCs come along, the cost pressure on our institutions is going to change because suddenly, there’s a very serious alternative to coming to a two-year degree program at Wharton.

Reality check: should private education be subsidised for UK poorer pupils?

James Ball:

Eye-catching research on private schools has come out strongly in favour of a scheme that would lead to the state funding places at top private schools for the children of less well-off parents. It would certainly be a scheme popular with the winners – if not those who miss out – but do the numbers in the report really bear out the case that the Social Market Foundation is making?