Failing grade

One New Jersey school district puts the kibosh on birthday cupcakes.

Students returning to school across the country this week will learn that “A” is for “Apple.” However, in Marlboro Township, N.J., they will be learning that “A” is for “Asinine.” That is because the school district there has banned using food to celebrate birthdays, as can be seen in the following letter that a friend recently forwarded me:

Dear Parents/Guardians:

The Marlboro Township School District strongly supports and encourages the recognition of a child’s birthday during the school day. It is an annual milestone in every child’s life that should be celebrated not just at home, but in school as well, where children spend one-third of their day with teachers, classmates, and peers.

However, while there are many wonderful and creative ways to celebrate a child’s birthday in school, birthday celebrations shall no longer include food treats. The Marlboro Township Board of Education, with support of its administrators and the school district’s parent organization leaders, has endorsed a new regulation as part of its Nutrition Policy (File Code 3542.1/SE 8505) that provides alternative ways to recognize a child’s birthday in school that do not include food. The regulations will take effect as of September 1, 2012.

We appreciate your understanding the need for this important change as we continue to recognize birthdays in school with non-food activities that celebrate your child’s special day.


Dr. David C. Abbott, Superintendent

A link in the letter states that food is being banned because of the conflict with the healthy eating message taught in phys ed and nutrition classes; the time taken to distribute and eat a cupcake takes away from valuable learning time, and because a student may have a severe allergic reaction to a treat. Gifts, gift bags and balloon bouquets are also being banned because they allegedly can be distracting to learning.

I am certain this ban will have a negative impact on the in-store bakery departments and baking mix aisles of the local Wegmans, Acme, Top Tomato, Pathmark and ShopRite. Likewise the balloon ban will certainly curtail sales in the floral department. I would think that even the produce department would be affected since grapes, carrot and celery sticks are also food.

The supermarkets in town need to band together to teach this school board a lesson because if left unchecked this will surely spread like wildfire throughout the country. It will only be a matter of time before some brainiac in the state capital of Trenton decides that this policy makes perfect sense and should be implemented statewide.

I’m wondering what kids in Marlboro can do to celebrate their birthdays in school.

How about a good old-fashioned game of dodge ball? That will open up a slew of lawsuits. Pin the tail on the donkey will incur the wrath of the PETA people, so we’ll have to scratch that. A piñata seems like the only politically correct option, but wait, isn’t a piñata filled with candy? Perhaps the Marlboro school board can substitute school supplies instead, but the thought of pencils and protractors raining down on children seems like another lawsuit waiting to happen.

Perhaps students should spend some quality time writing a 250-word essay on how their very existence is negatively impacting the world’s carbon footprint. Then Wegmans could dedicate its floor space to loose-leaf paper and notepads – made from recycled paper, of course – instead of those mouth-watering decadent cupcakes.

Incidentally, the board memo suggests that students celebrate birthdays by having a “parent/special someone” come in and read a story to the class, by donating a book to the library in the student’s name, by having a morning “Happy Birthday” P.A. announcement, and by having the class sing “Happy Birthday.” When the board of education finds out that royalties have to be paid every time “Happy Birthday” is sung I’m sure a memo will go out stating that property taxes once again have to be raised.

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