A lunchtime staple of students for years, the peanut butter and jelly sandwich could be considered one of the more popular items found in the sack lunches of school children.
But in conjunction with recent equity training in local Portland schools, one principal is raising questions about the mention of the sandwich, arguing it has broader implications about race, the Portland Tribune reports.
The sandwich was reportedly mentioned in a lesson plan last year. Verenice Gutierrez from the Harvey Scott K-8 School used it as an example of a subtle form of racism in language, according to the report.
“What about Somali or Hispanic students, who might not eat sandwiches?” Gutierrez said, according to the Tribune. “Another way would be to say: ‘Americans eat peanut butter and jelly, do you have anything like that?’ Let them tell you. Maybe they eat torta. Or pita.”
As part of a training program known as "Courageous Conversations" that has been phased into Portland schools in recent years, the Tribune reports that staff members at Gutierrez's school have been going through trainings, classroom observations and exercises, such as reading a news article and then talking about it from the perspective of “white privilege."
The organization behind the program is Pacific Educational Group. According to the group's website, their aim is to help minority students through initiatives that address racial educational disparities, "intentionally, explicitly, and comprehensively."
Since word of the news spread, however, several bloggers and Twitter users took issue with the claim that a sandwich might be racially charged and deemed the principal's statements absurd.
The author of a post on Twitchy.com wrote that "The sane are quick to rightly mock this latest asinine claim."
The author then featured a selection of tweets mocking the implication that mention of the sandwich has anything to do with race issues:
"[W]hat's the verdict on grilled cheese? Racist? Sexist?" one person tweeted.
"All sandwichs are racist! It's the name "sandwich" the poor tortas are discriminated against!" another wrote.
Robb Cowie, the communications director for Portland Public schools, told Fox News that the district was on board with Gutierrez's comments.
“Persistently we have not done a good enough job educating students of color and specifically African-American students,” Cowie told Fox. "That’s what the program is addressing. How can we find a way to support African American students, their families – so that we are producing better outcomes and narrowing the achievement gap.”
Recent data from the U.S. Department of Education highlighted racial inequity in a survey of 72,000 schools. Minority students faced harsher discipline and were more likely to be taught by lower paid teachers with less experience than white students, according to a press release.
A <a href="http://thestir.cafemom.com/teen/136092/state_senate_declares_holding_hands" target="_hplink">bill passed in Tennessee earlier this year declared hand-holding</a> a 'gateway sexual activity,' with teachers facing firing for even demonstrating the action.
Surprisingly, the ban on hugging isn't a one-off rule at a select school, but a trend that seems to be spreading. Schools in <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2012/03/new-jersey-school-bans-hugging/" target="_hplink">Portland and Florida started instituting these rules</a> in 2010, while administrations in New Jersey, Brooklyn and <a href="http://thedailyedge.thejournal.ie/new-zealand-school-bans-hugging-448032-May2012/" target="_hplink">New Zealand took it upon themselves in 2012</a>. For all, the reasoning appears to be the same: Respecting personal space and "unsuitable interactions" between students.
At <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/3964683/Marking-in-red-ink-banned-in-case-it-upsets-schoolchildren.html" target="_hplink">schools in both Australia and the U.K</a>., green ink has replaced red ink in marking children's paper because of its 'confrontational' nature.
Due to its "aggressive" nature, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2001/05/06/us/increasingly-schools-move-to-restrict-dodgeball.html" target="_hplink">dodgeball has been banned in schools across North America</a>, as it's frequently named the cause of injuries and fights. Adult dodgeball, on the other hand, <a href="http://www.thendl.com/" target="_hplink">has been enjoying a continued popularity</a>.
You'd think, with all the talk about childhood obesity these days, schools would be encouraging students to ride their bikes or skateboards to school. One New York <a href="http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,559460,00.html" target="_hplink">said it was illegal for kids to have bikes</a>, while another Orthodox school <a href="http://www.yourjewishnews.com/Pages/20640.aspx" target="_hplink">disagreed with the freedom afford by the two wheels</a>.
There's plenty of debate about the best possible bookbag for kids -- but one school in Michigan doesn't allow bags into the classroom at all. Citing safety concerns in lunchrooms and classes, <a href="http://www.mlive.com/news/jackson/index.ssf/2009/09/no-backpack_policy_challenged.html" target="_hplink">the high school asked students to keep returning to their lockers between classes</a> to retrieve the appropriate books.
There have been many toy bans in schools, but Pogs -- those tradeable metal disks -- made a huge splash when t<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/1995/03/22/us/to-end-pog-fights-schools-ban-game.html" target="_hplink">heir safety, and the competitive rush spurred by their very existence</a>, was called into question by schools around the world.
Though later overturned, a Massachusetts school attempted to <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/story/2012-05-11/Mass-schools-bake-sale-ban/54902332/1" target="_hplink">ban bake sales on the basis of their lack of nutrition</a>.
In Ohio earlier this year, a 13-year-old boy <a href="http://mitchieville.com/2012/03/27/goth-child-banned-from-wearing-make-up-to-school-goths-mom-to-sue/" target="_hplink">was sent home from school because of his black lipstick, eye makeup and nail polish</a> (boy is not shown here). The school claimed it had <a href="http://jezebel.com/5055243/boys-makeup-gets-him-banned-from-school-what-lesson-does-he-learn" target="_hplink">a rule against "extreme or distracting" makeup</a>.
An Ottawa school banned yoga pants last year -- <a href="http://news.nationalpost.com/2011/11/30/no-yoga-pants-unless-theyre-covred-up-ottawa-school-reminds-students/" target="_hplink">unless the tight bottoms were covered up with long shirts</a>.
Silly Bandz are fun! Silly Bandz are cute! Silly Bandz are, apparently, a distraction in the classroom and should not be permitted. <a href="http://theweek.com/article/index/203529/the-ridiculous-silly-bandz-ban" target="_hplink">Schools all over North America have banned these collectables from class</a>, but that sure doesn't keep them from getting trading at recess.
No more BFFs for you, British kids! At a few U.K. schools, <a href="http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/4203460/Schools-ban-children-making-best-friends.html" target="_hplink">teachers are preventing children from making "best friends"</a> in an attempt to save others' feelings.
Milk was always seen as part of a wholesome school lunch, but now a group of doctors wants it off the menu entirely. A vegan and physician group in the U.S. is pushing a petition to get rid of milk in schools, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/25/ban-milk-from-school-lunc_n_1703406.html" target="_hplink">due to it being "...high in sugar, high in fat and high in animal protein that is harmful to, rather than protective of, bone health</a>."
Well, not dinosaurs <i>exactly</i>, but the word dinosaur, in addition to other words like "poverty," "birthdays," "Halloween," and "dancing," which <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/26/new-york-city-bans-refere_n_1380991.html" target="_hplink">might elicit "unpleasant emotions" in students.</a>
It might get chilly in Pennsylvania, but students there won't be allowed to wear their sheepskin Ugg boots into class, <a href="http://ca.shine.yahoo.com/ugg-boots-banned-in-school--education-crisis-solved-.html" target="_hplink">thanks to the potential for storing contraband like cell phones in the roomy footwear.</a>
You may have thought baggy pants were more of a '90s thing, but schools today are continuing to push for bans on the sagging pants, with <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2020259/Saggy-pants-ban-Florida-school-board-plan-new-rules-pupils-dress-code.html" target="_hplink">some schools claiming it interferes with learning</a>, and <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/31/saggy-pants-ban-at-chicag_n_1559248.html" target="_hplink">others saying the style is related to gangs</a>.
And then there's the opposite end of the spectrum. Much like yoga pants, skinny jeans have been banned in schools all over the place, due to their lack of modesty and <a href="http://articles.nydailynews.com/2012-03-22/news/31227071_1_dress-code-skinny-jeans-tv-station" target="_hplink">distraction factor for the opposite sex</a>.
It's physical and emotional injury teachers are attempting to <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/14/education/14recess.html?_r=1&oref=slogin" target="_hplink">avoid by banning competitive games in schools and at recess</a>, goes the claim.
A Toronto school made headlines last year when it was announced it would ban hard balls from its premises, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2011/11/16/torontos-earl-beatty-school-ball-ban_n_1097594.html" target="_hplink">following a parent suffering a concussion after being hit by a ball</a>.
Grinch, much? We've all heard of holiday trees and all-encompassing December concerts, but <a href="http://news.ninemsn.com.au/national/8389344/sydney-school-accused-of-stealing-christmas" target="_hplink">some schools have gone as far as banning references to Santa and carols, among other Christmas-oriented terms</a>.
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