Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The School Knows Better Than You Do

Goodbye, sweet America. Can't figure out what to feed your own child? Are you addled brained of a parent that you're going to need someone else to decide what you child should and should not eat? Well, if you answered yes to those two questions AND if you have a child and they are currently attending (or going to attend) Little Village Academy in Chicago, then you are in luck! That's right. That's because the Little Village Academy in Chicago has decided that you have no idea how to feed your kid properly and therefore they have banned "...students from bringing lunches from home altogether."

That's right. It doesn't matter if you want to pack your kid's lunch. If your child attends Little Village Academy, you can't. According to the Chicago Tribune, "...students are not allowed to pack lunches from home. Unless they have a medical excuse, they must eat the food served in the cafeteria." NOT ALLOWED to pack lunches from home. In the land of the free. All right then. How...how...why is this? Well, because the school knows better than you, silly.

The principal, a one Elsa Carmona, explained that "...her intention is to protect students from their own unhealthful food choices." By telling folks how to parent. By telling them that they CANNOT choose what their own child eats. By taking away their freedom to raise their child how they see fit. All right then. This is asinine. Oh, and in case you were wondering what sort of meal they will be providing the children with for their own protection, please see the photo below. It is alleged that it is some sort of "an enchilada dish". Behold!

Oh, man. Kid, I feel for ya. Ms. Carmona claims that she created this policy six years ago. The reasoning? She saw students bringing "bottles of soda and flaming hot chips" on field trips for lunch. Oh, no! Flaming hot chips! Soda?! The madness! She goes on to say that "Nutrition wise, it is better for the children to eat at the school." Right. Because parents are completely incapable of packing a nutritious lunch for their children to eat. Those poor dumb, dumb parents. She also says that "It's about the nutrition and the excellent quality food that they are able to serve (in the lunchroom). It's milk versus a Coke. But with allergies and any medical issue, of course, we would make an exception." Wait. She what?

She would make an exception for kids with allergies or some sort of medical issue? You mean, the school doesn't know how to handle things like that better than the parents do? Why not? They seem to know what's best for every other kid out there when it comes to feeding them. Why can't they execute that same sort of care for the ones that really need some help? If you answered because this is an asinine policy to begin with, please come forward and claim your prize.

And in case you were wondering who pays for all of this, let us go to the part of the article that really aggravates me. It explains that "Any school that bans homemade lunches also puts more money in the pockets of the district's food provider, Chartwells-Thompson. The federal government pays the district for each free or reduced-price lunch taken, and the caterer receives a set fee from the district per lunch." I see. Soooo...let me get this straight. By doing this, someone actually makes money. By taking away the freedom to choose, someone is profiting off of it. Huh. And the money that someone makes comes from where again? The federal government, was it? Yeah, OK. And that money comes from where again? OH. That's right. ME!

How many times do I have to point out to morons that this stuff happens ALL THE TIME. This isn't a "free" program. It's paid for by the taxpayers! Federal taxpayers! When did it become everyone else's job to feed someone else's kid?! I didn't sign up for that! I can think of about a hundred different ways that I would like my federal tax dollars to be used and not one of them involves feeding school children in Chicago! (And most of them don't include the many, many ways our tax dollars are already being pissed away, but I digress.)

Fortunately, there are some voices of reason with this issue. A one J. Justin Wilson, who is a senior researcher at the Washington-based Center for Consumer Freedom, which is partially funded by the food industry, said "This is such a fundamental infringement on parental responsibility." Do you think?! Oh, sorry about that. He seems to be on my side. Never mind. I meant, yeah! It's an infringement. (I'm going to have to remember that phrase. Fundamental infringement. It sounds a little more responsible than "moronic" or "asinine".) He also asks the sadly rhetorical question of "Would the school balk if the parent wanted to prepare a healthier meal?" Hard to say, being as how they've banned lunches from home altogether, but I'd still like to know their answer.

Another voice of reason on this topic seems to come from a one Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach who is an "education policy professor" (whatever that is). She commented on the issue of the cost of requiring students to eat a school lunch at the cost of $2.25 a day. "We don't spend anywhere close to that on my son's daily intake of a sandwich (lovingly cut into the shape of a Star Wars ship), Goldfish crackers and milk". That lady is awesome. How cool of a mom is she? I want to know what Star Wars ship. I'm guessing the Millennium Falcon. Her son probably doesn't like crusts, so she cuts them off in a cutesy way. I like her. She's fun, she's reasonable and she's right. $2.25 a day for a school lunch? You can definitely bring a lunch from home for considerably less.

And while not all schools in the Chicago area have implemented this policy that you and I pay for (funny, I don't feel like I live in Chicago), others have come up with their own equally ridiculous policies. Take the Claremont Academy Elementary School on the South Side. Over there you can bring a lunch to school, but the school "officials" will "...confiscate any snacks loaded with sugar or salt. (They often are returned after school.)" Right. That makes perfect sense. Because the kid won't eat it after school. Noooo. If you're not eating it at school, it takes all of the fun out of it! But do you know why they do it? If you ask Principal Rebecca Stinson she'll tell you that "...most parents expect that the school will look out for their children."

If that last quote doesn't horrify you to your bones, then I can't help you here. Sure, I expect schools to "look out" for children when the children are there. But when I think of being "looked out" for, I think of the school keeping the children safe...and not safe from a Cheeto! Next thing you know, they're going to want to tell the kids what to wear, what doctor to go to, etc. And what, exactly, happens on the weekends when the school isn't around to guide these completely soft-headed parents in raising their children? What are they going to do? How will they know what to choose? Where is the school when we need it?! Holy crap. I think I made myself sick typing these last few lines. Goodbye, sweet America. With policies like the ones described here, we are not only doomed, we are screwed. We are so scroomed.

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