March 09, 2008

"We don't want to embarrass anyone"

That's the reasoning behind the Guilford County (NC) Board of Education's decision to force the school district to pay for the lunches of kids who do not happen to have money on a particular day (or days). And NO -- we're not talking about kids who already qualify for free lunches. We're talking about kids that pay full (or reduced) price for lunch.

Members of the Guilford County Board of Education argued at two March 4 meetings over whether the schools should pay to fund a rapidly expanding practice of allowing elementary and middle school students to eat regular meals without paying.

At the meeting of the full board Tuesday night, board members and school staff framed the issue as either a case of hungry students who cannot afford meals, or of parents who are gaming the system to get the schools to pay for them.

But the former argument is moot for if students cannot afford the meals, then they would qualify for free lunches! A bit further down in the article, it seems the real reason for this dunderheaded decision comes forth -- and its loaded with the usual educationist theorist drivel:

Since 2003, Guilford County Schools has allowed elementary and middle school students without cash to charge meals, in order to avoid singling students out and halting meal lines.

Guilford County Schools is alone on that list in that it doesn't provide alternate lunches, such as peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or vegetables, for students who charge lunches. Guilford County school officials say alternate lunches embarrass students, saddle principals with making case-by-case judgments on which students qualify, and force cashiers in meal lines to discard meals that students have been served in order to replace them with alternate meals.

Of course. We can't negatively affect a child's self esteem now, can we, no matter what. Even if it drives a school district into debt because parents that have the means are too damn lazy to either pay, or better yet, fix their own children their own lunch. Absolutely amazing.

Personally, I can perhaps understand not singling out young elementary school kids (say, grades 1-3), but eventually a line has to be drawn. And I especially liked the following comment from an article reader, which reflected my own thoughts on the matter:

I teach at an area Middle School. The kids that owe money have plenty to buy slushies, pretzles, cookies, chips, and Gatorade. They buy all of these extras and then run up a tab. The parents pay only what the regular meals cost - if that. Several of my students owe as much as $17.00, but they eat the extras every single day. Board members are out of touch with what is going on in the schools. It looks like they would ask the people that really know. Where is the money coming from?

Maybe next, school boards across the land can begin ponying up for students' i-pods, fancy sneakers and cell phones ... at least those who do not yet have such. After all, we wouldn't want the students to be "singled out" or "embarrassed," right?

Spell it with me: P-A-R-E-N-T-I-N-G.

(Thanks to faithful Colossus reader Fred Gregory for the tip!)

Posted by Hube at March 9, 2008 05:05 PM | TrackBack

Comments  (We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)

This is unbelievable.

I was one of those kids that was often singled out and harassed, but I don't think it ever once happened because I forgot lunch money. I don't think this is a real issue.

Plus, anytime I forgot my lunch money you know what I did? Called mom, borrowed from a friend, or went hungry for 8 whole hours.

It is up to the parent to protect their precious snowflake, it's the school's job to provide an education.

Posted by: Joe M at March 9, 2008 06:03 PM

I'm picturing one of those Visa ads where everyone's buying their double mocha half-caf lattes and biscotti and whatnot with their debit cards. There's always one rube who tries to pay with cash, and the whole place grinds to a screeching halt, and everyone stares at him with disdain.

Wait a minute, what city was it that pondered giving cash to welfare recipients on the grounds that having to pay for groceries with food stamps was too embarrassing? They were shocked when it was pointed out that poor people would likely use their cash to buy liquor and drugs instead of putting food on the table.

If you're not the slightest bit embarrassed to be poor, there's something wrong with you. Still, that shouldn't be extended to school kids who are hardly responsible for their parents' misfortune and/or irresponsibility. Couldn't they just issue a meal card to each student? If you're a poor kid, you get a fixed amount to spend on meals each month, and you actually learn how to budget effectively. If you're a rich kid, your parents can load it up as much as they want, and you can eat pizza and cheeseburgers every day.

Posted by: G Rex at March 10, 2008 12:24 PM

How many kids are going to "forget" their lunch money and then pocket what Mom and Dad gave them for whatever they want?

This is Free Lunch For All. Why pay for something you can easily get for free? Look for this school to be way over budget next year and be shocked, Shocked! the number of kids "forgetting" their lunch money is nearly 100%

Posted by: Duffy at March 10, 2008 01:02 PM

Lunch Lady (or Gentleman): "Let's see... double platter Sloppy Joe's, chocolate milk... that'll be $4.00."

Me (with money burning a hole in my pocket): "Sorry, I'm broke."

Basically, this would have meant that the school district decided to pay for my beer every Friday.

Posted by: RickJ at March 10, 2008 01:54 PM