What We Can Learn From Jamie Oliver Being Kicked Out of L.A. Schools

Kara Powell | Feb 8, 2011

So this probably comes as no big surprise to those of you who know me, but I’m no big fan of “reality” (note the location of the quote marks) TV shows. But last year, I did watch one, and even gathered my kids to watch it too. “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution” was a great expose on the nutrition (or lack thereof) of one particular city, and the way that simple health choices could make a difference for kids, families, and schools.

We already eat pretty healthily (don’t count our Super Bowl party food against us, please) but this 6 or 7 episode reality TV show made an impression on my kids. The next week at a field trip, my 8 year-old chose fruit instead of chocolate cake as a snack, and she told me it was because of what she learned from Jamie Oliver.

I just read this article yesterday that Jamie Oliver’s license to film a second round of his reality show here in Los Angeles is being terminated. Oliver claims it’s because the district isn’t sure that he will make them look good. Even the district’s own press release seems to admit that this is a large factor in the decision to prohibit filming: “Officials with both the school district and the production said the dispute stemmed in part from concerns over how the district would be portrayed.”

We all want good press. I want you to like me. And I want others to say nice things about me. And about our work at FYI too.

But we HAVE to shed the light of truth on what we do. Once of our leadership heroes at Fuller, Max De Pree, has wisely taught that “the first job of a leader is to define reality.” We have to let REALITY be exposed. Hiding the truth, or pretending something is better than it really is, serves no one in the long-term.

We can learn from those who critique us, who point out what we are missing. It’s hard. And painful. But it’s part of what leads to growth - for us and for the kids we care about.

Kara Powell

Dr. Kara Powell is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI), a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary, and Fuller's Chief of Leadership Formation. Named by Christianity Today as one of “50 Women You Should Know,” Kara serves as a Youth and Family Strategist for Orange, and also speaks regularly at parenting and leadership conferences. Kara is the author or coauthor of a number of books, including Growing Young, Growing With, The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family, Sticky Faith Curriculum, Can I Ask That?, Deep Justice Journeys, Deep Justice in a Broken World, Deep Ministry in a Shallow World, and the Good Sex Youth Ministry Curriculum. Kara lives with her husband Dave and their three children, Nathan, Krista, and Jessica, in Southern California.


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