Healthy children, better students

Fayette County Public Schools could use some good news.

Even more important, students could use a better shot at doing good work in school now and enjoying good health throughout life.

So, we urge the board of education to revisit the proposal presented to adopt district-wide wellness policies for elementary schools.

The School Wellness Action Plan boils down to three things:

■ All kids should have at least 20 minutes a day of active recess.

■ Food should not be used as a reward in the classroom.

■ Food served at celebrations should include healthful options.

Research has long confirmed what most parents know intuitively: Children behave and focus better when they eat right and get exercise.

Most children spend about half their waking days in school, where success depends on being able to behave and focus. So, strategies to improve food and exercise habits are also strategies to improve academic success.

It is, for example, beyond unproductive to discipline a disruptive child by denying him or her recess. Likewise, using food as a reward sends the wrong messages about when and how to eat, and why doing well on school work is important.

There probably isn't much argument about that line of reasoning among educators or school board members.

The question — a legitimate one -— is whether the district should impose the policies or leave that decision up to parents, teachers and administrators at the school level.

That makes sense if all the schools have the same resources, including parental involvement.

We know they don't. So another way to put the question might be: Should all the kids in our district have the same shot at good health and academic performance?

Several schools in the district have adopted wellness policies similar to these without any serious pushback. If they can do it, then every school can.

The board should reconsider this proposal and adopt it, then find a way to give educators the training and other resources they need to improve the health — and the academic success — of our children.