TED Conversations

Randy Speck

Superintendent , Madison District Public Schools

This conversation is closed.

Debate: Should public schools take on the responsibility for offering basic needs like food and health care to students and families?

Schools may no longer be just a place for parents to drop their kids off for six and a half hours each day. Due to various socio-economics, schools increasingly find themselves in a new place of influence. The impact of that influence could have a major impact on communities. Schools have access to be able to provide three meals a day through various breakfast, lunch and dinner programs. Schools have access to healthcare through School Based Health Centers to be able to provide services to students, their families and the community. However, the debate is...should schools have this responsibility?


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Oct 29 2012: Is there a correlation between more government and the current condition of Detroit?
    • thumb
      Oct 29 2012: Pat,

      I can almost see the sarcasm coming from your post :). I am not advocating more government...actually quite the opposite. I am not looking for more assistance or $$$. I just wonder if we spend it differently, with a different focus, would we have different results. Schools get the students regardless of whether or not they have anything to eat or a place to sleep. My premise is that if we possibly re-focused some efforts into kids who had a healthier lifestyle, would our academic results improve?
      • thumb
        Oct 29 2012: I hear you, it is hard to argue against feeding kids, truthfully I'm not sure I disagree on a tactical level but from a strategic level this is a problem.

        By definition humor is pointing out things that don't make sense. Detroit (although I'm not sure your district resembles Detroit) doesn't make sense, Detroit is it's own caricature.

        To be blunt, generally speaking public servants want to build their empire. This is a natural tendency with everyone. The problem is that this empire really has no accountability other than getting on the budget, which has little to do with what the customer/taxpayer wants.

        More government meddling has created a dearth of economic opportunities in Detroit. The very simple truth is that ALL jobs are created by investment. Detroit scares the hell out of any investor.

        These seemingly innocuous programs have a way of metastasizing into a Detroit.
        • thumb
          Oct 29 2012: "These seemingly innocuous programs have a way of metastasizing into a Detroit."

          Pat...like I mentioned to Bob up above, I'm still formulating a way to use these programs as a way to benefit, not to become an empire of social programs with zero accountability. 40% of the student body that comes to the district I lead lives in Detroit. They come to us for something different...something they are not getting. I feel a responsibility to give them that, knowing it is idealistic..knowing some may misuse and abuse...but as I said to Bob, it's hard to just sit back and do nothing.
      • thumb
        Oct 29 2012: I think that as the superintendent you first responsibility is to define what the problem is.

        I would think some investigating is in order.

        I would follow the money trail and find out if there are irregularities. Find out if there is any other kind of corruption. Find out where there is waste either financial, workers being under-worked, or other types of waste.

        If you find the real problem the solution should be obvious, if the solution is not obvious you have not found the real problem and should keep investigating.

        After you have done the above you may want to look into a management philosophy called lean that has been very successfully implemented by government like police departments and other agencies.

        You may also want to get donations from corporations for food.

        You may want to look into teaching the kids economics and logic, as they obviously need to know some stuff about this subject.

        I think your real problem is that you have not defined your problem. You need to do some LOOKING.
        • thumb
          Oct 29 2012: There are 55 million students in the US who attend K-12 schools....there are 16 million children under the age of 18 that are considered hungry or below the poverty level. Sixty percent of the student population I serve is mobile...meaning they will not be with us the entire school year. This in itself is part of the problem
      • thumb
        Oct 29 2012: In that case what is the obvious solution?

        If one does not leap to mind you have not defined the problem.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.