Thursday, April 14, 2011

School Days, Gruel Days

If you've ever wondered why private schools and online distance learning programs are becoming more and more attractive for parents and students everywhere, here's one more reason.

At Little Village Academy in Chicago, children are prohibited from bringing their lunches from home, and are required to eat the school offering. This is a progressive move to join Chicagoans Barack and Michelle Obama in their crusade to combat childhood obesity, so try to imagine that horrible lunch food you remember as a child made exponentially worse by trying to make it “healthy.”

It’s pretty obvious that the kids don’t like it. When reporters visited the school, seventh grader Fernando Dominguez, like a modern-day Samuel Gompers, bilingually incited his classmates to the unison chant, “We should bring our own lunch!” Most parents are understandably upset by this, too, because many children choose to eat nothing at all rather than choking down the horrible lunch food the school offers. Sure, eating nothing won’t make them fat, but we can’t exactly say that’s healthy, either.

But in spite of the obvious popular opinion of the student body or the ire of their parents, Principal Elsa Carmona feels strongly that making the children eat the disgusting food that she wants them to eat is a good thing. And as little sense as that makes, she even has a few parents carrying water for her. Parent Miguel Medina, for example, thinks the no-home-lunch policy is good, because “when they bring the food from home, there is no control over the food."

But he’s wrong. There is control. Just not the control he and the principal want.

Most parents understand and embrace the opportunity to provide an element of control in their child’s life. They use that opportunity to nurture their child’s exceptionalism and potential as an individual in a society of other individuals. Mr. Medina, it seems, would defer this opportunity to the “experts” of society, because parents (including him, I presume) just aren’t smart enough to know what is good for their kids.

We need to understand that this is not “about nutrition and the excellent quality of food they are able to serve in the lunchroom.” It’s not about a concerned principal “encouraging healthier choices.” This has nothing to do with your kids’ weight or health.

It is simply another blow to the rights of the American family. It is part of a revolutionary movement to control the most intimate choices we make in raising our children. Parents have been stripped of the right to choose what their child will eat. And not least of all, parents are forced to buy a bad product that they and their children do not want.

And nothing about any of that is American.

William Sullivan

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