TEACHERS have handed out snacks to kids for Halloween ever since there was a Halloween - but not in Harrison County.
To hand out cupcakes to kids, teachers had to have permission from their principals, who had to have permission from county superintendent Susan Lee Collins, who had to have permission from the state Department of Education, which had to have permission from the U.S. Department of Education, which had to have approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which had to consult the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which Congress passed at the behest of First Lady Michelle Obama.
The answer to Superintendent Collins came back no in a letter from Richard J. Goff, MBA, executive director of the Office of Child Nutrition, state Department of Education.
"Therefore, federal regulations preclude us from relaxing the nutrition standards that are currently in place," Goff wrote in boldface to Collins.
This is the Soviet-style decision-making that left the Russian economy stuck in the third year of a permanent five-year plan.
The central planners do have good news.
"USDA recently published practical, science-based nutrition standards for snack foods and beverages sold to children at school during the day," the department said.
Snack items must be less than 200 calories and must be "whole grain-rich" or have as its main ingredient a fruit, a vegetable, a dairy product or a protein food.
This over-regulation of snacks helps explain why public schools in America are expensive and ineffectual, particularly in West Virginia, where the Legislature writes rules the counties should write.
Despite spending on average nearly a quarter-million dollars a year for every 20 students, West Virginia schools nevertheless rank 47th in school performance, according to the report last year on state schools by the independent PublicWorks.
Students learned when teachers were in control of the classroom and when school officials emphasized teaching Johnny to read.
Fewer children were fat and obesity was rare back then, as well.
Willie Brown, who was the longest-serving Speaker of the House in California, is fond of saying it is better to apologize than seek permission.
Teachers, principals and superintendents might heed those words when dealing with the central planners in Charleston and Washington.