What does it take for a school to suspend an eighth-grader, bar his attendance from an honors dinner, and strip him of his post as class Vice President? If you guessed drugs, alcohol, or a firearm, think again. A bag of candy is reason enough. This week, a Connecticut school levied these very punishments on an honor student with no history of misconduct, just for buying a bag of Skittles from his classmate. School officials are hiding behind their "Wellness Policy"—which prohibits bake sales, classroom pizza parties, and the sale of candy—as justification for the harsh disciplinary action.
Think that sounds over the top? So do a lot of other Americans. An op-ed in The Atlanta Journal Constitution likened many of the recent anti-obesity initiatives in American classrooms to Singapore’s shame-based education system:
Their approach has been to single out overweight children, mandate participation in daily strenuous exercise and provide them with fewer ‘calorie coupons’ to spend at lunch than their trimmer peers. Participants are insulted and socially ostracized.
Suspension for Skittles isn’t the most absurd idea among recently proposed measures aimed at our love handles. In fact, it doesn’t even make the top five:
Legislators in Georgia are attempting to pass a law mandating weigh-ins for school kids.
The UK Food Standards Agency has considered plastering dairy products (like cheese and butter) with cigarette-style health warnings.
Britain recently instituted a policy instructing teachers to confiscate “junk” food. The strategy is structured around a “Packed Lunch Policy”—an initiative that tells parents what they can and cannot feed their own children.
Last month, Palm Beach banned “formula restaurants” (that’s regulator-speak for "chains") from opening in the island town.
The Foresight report (commissioned by the British government) recently called for overweight kids to be shipped off to government-sponsored fat camps.
Where will this government micromanagement of our diets end? If this latest incident is any indication, it will end in detention.