Saturday, January 05, 2019

Killer Lettuce

Could you ever have imagined such a thing? Here it is, America 2019, and just a few short months ago no one could eat salad. In some circles, that might be cause for celebration. After all, who wants to eat a salad when you could just as easily grab a pepperoni pizza, or fried chicken, or any number of things that will make you feel like, yes, I deserve this.

On the other hand, we're right in the middle of an obesity epidemic, caused at least partially by our incredibly poor eating habits. I certainly understand why people don't want to eat salad. I'm thinking salad for lunch today, and it makes me a little sad. But hey, we all have to make sacrifices here and there.

There were very few things I liked about Michael Bloomberg's tenure as mayor, but I'll tell you what they both are:

1. He pushed unconventional seating and allowed us to place seats in arrangements other than rows.

2. He made all the city lunch use whole grains instead of white bread.

That's it, actually. I can't think of anything else he did to improve anything, and almost every working teacher and in service student is still feeling the effects of his seemingly endless tenure. I was surprised he didn't find a way to buy himself a fourth term and inflict yet another charm offensive upon us. (Of course, now he's looking at buying the White House, perish forbid.)

I lost a bunch of weight maybe eleven years ago. Then I got cancer and decided, the hell with it, I'll eat what I want. I did that for around ten years until my doctor told me I was borderline diabetic. I decided that was a line I didn't want to cross and started eating a lot more carefully. Hey, I ate whatever I wanted for ten years. I had a good run. Now I'm down to a better weight, but it's really hard to stay there.

It's actually easier when I'm working. One reason is, that unlike most high schools, our school has a teacher cafeteria. While Bloomberg was focused on nutrition in school cafeterias, his contempt for us was so intense that he closed every teacher cafe that wasn't making money. As chapter leader, I sent an email to staff saying if our cafe didn't improve its numbers, we'd lose it. A lot of us started patronizing it more after that. To Bloomberg, nutrition was key, but not for public school teachers. He hated us with a vengeance, and I certainly hope that's made clear to primary voters if he runs.

Even if you're fortunate enough to have a cafe, once the killer lettuce thing happened, you weren't getting salad. In our cafe, you can buy a small chef's salad, or you can choose tuna fish in a cup with salad and a vegetable on the side. That's better for you than the frozen (perhaps thawed) chicken and fish patties covered with canned sauces or processed cheeses. It's better for you than frozen pizza, burritos filled with chicken nuggets and Lord only knows what else.

Last week there was no tuna, and no salad. The salad made an appearance yesterday, but who knows how long that will last? The American food business is about as clean as American politics, and we could easily have another killer lettuce scare.

It's a disgrace that Bloomberg closed teacher cafeterias. We need a place to sit and talk, we need a place to unwind, and it's shortsighted and cruel to deny it over a few sheckels in a city that's got three billion dollars to give Jeff Bezos. The craze for inquiry teams is short-sighted and pointless, and judging principals by them is idiotic. We are adults. We know when to reach out for help and advice. Forcing it upon us just makes us hate it.

Mayor Bill de Blasio continues the Bloomberg policy of packing schools to the gills, with no regard whatsoever for potential ill effects.  You'd think one of his highly paid, highly educated assistants might say, "Hey, you know what? Maybe if we treated teachers with respect, they'd do a better job."

No such luck. Healthy options? You have to show up on the right day. A place to eat, to informally meet and discuss what you do every day? You don't need that. We're busy finding space for Moskowitz Academies.
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