Why Does DESE Need So Many Employees? Is it to Explain the Federal Mandates for School Districts?
Schools have little to no local control of schools either on the district or state level. My superintendent agreed with me years ago when I observed that the only decisions left to district schools were
- hiring/firing decisions
- maintaining of physical properties
DESE was questioned last year by a State Representative on how many people were employed in that agency. Commissioner Nicastro thought that it was somewhere around 2,000 but she wasn’t sure. She had been asked previously to provide an employee list but to my knowledge, she had only provided a list of departments before she left her position in December 2014.
DESE released a USDA memo regarding Questions and Answers Related to the “Smart Snacks” Interim Final Rule. The “Smart Snacks” is a federal mandate that schools must follow to receive Federal funding for school meals. Here is an excerpt from a USDA flyer on Smart Snacks:
Who wouldn’t want kids to eat healthy food? But when the goal becomes so micromanaged and prescriptive by the government because of the mandates and the resultant accountability necessary (established by the Federal Government) to ensure the mandates are followed it descends into bureaucratic nonsense, job security for those who continue the nonsense and the alleged goal of students eating healthy food isn’t reached.
Look at page 2 of the USDA flyer on beverages. Are your eyes crossing over yet?
The program has not been widely successful and students have protested the portion of food/drink allowed and the food selection. Some districts are refusing the Federal money, establishing their own menus and found they are saving money. But for those Missouri districts still under the Federal mandates for school menus, here is an excerpted explanation via the DESE memorandum for schools on “smart snacks” and the tortured definition of a smoothie:
The entire document is 17 pages for schools to read and determine on what students can/cannot eat so the school can keep its Federal funding for school meals. Wouldn’t it be better for schools to make their own decisions and provide meals for students that they think are appropriate?
Just think of the layers of bureaucracy on both the Federal and state levels that wouldn’t be necessary to explain what constitutes a smoothie and what doesn’t, what students are ‘allowed’ to eat, and what is forbidden food by the government.