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UTLA Softens Criticism of Classroom Breakfast

Samantha Oltman | May 1, 2013

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In a statement released Tuesday morning, United Teachers Los Angeles softened its tone on Breakfast in the Classroom (BIC), a program in almost 10,000 LAUSD classrooms that feeds low-income students free breakfast at their desks in the morning.

The union’s announcement followed a Monday night LA Times story that said a majority of School Board members planned to vote at the May Board meeting to continue funding the program next year, and preceded a Tuesday afternoon parent protest in support of the classroom breakfast program. (See: Parents Rally to Save Classroom Breakfasts.)

The “breakfast program is flawed — but fixable,” the union wrote in the press release, urging the district to work together with UTLA to resolve some of the issues it has with BIC. (See UTLA statement here.)

Only a few weeks ago, the union seemed to condemn the program when it announced that “Breakfast in the Classroom gets failing grade from teachers,” based on a survey of just 729 teachers, half of whom complained that BIC cut into their instructional time and left messes behind.

The UTLA press release arrived on the heels of a statement in support of Breakfast in the Classroom that LAUSD Board Member Bennett Kayser sent to the press Monday evening. (See release here.)

Kayser, who received significant UTLA funding during his 2011 campaign and often aligns himself with teachers union, may have startled some when he threw his lot behind BIC, writing, “Our Breakfast in the Classroom program not only furthers the President’s effort to feed hungry children but brings much needed revenue for the instructional program to the District as well.”

Then again, Kayser also seized the opportunity to criticize LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy for “inexplicably” pulling BIC from next year’s budget and leaving it up to the School Board to vote on whether or not to fund the breakfast program.

Both Kayser and UTLA emphasized that the breakfast program needs improvements, however. Their key concerns are how feed students breakfast without interrupting learning time in class, and how to resolve sanitation issues.

That the program needs work is something most stakeholders agree on — even Cortni Pugh, the head of the SEIU Local 99, which is a big supporter of BIC, told LA School Report last week that it is a new program and needs time to be fully implemented. Now that Deasy has forced a School Board vote, the teachers union seems more ready to negotiate the details of the program rather than failing it outright.

Previous posts: Deasy’s School Breakfast Gambit Confuses Supporters; Classroom Breakfast Expanding Despite Some Complaints

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