On the Border-Line

From the sublime to the ridiculous – yesterday I offered you a lovely poem by Mary Oliver.

Today, I offer you this revolting headline from the Huffington Post:


Yes indeed, the long arm of school regulation has now reached into your kitchen and grabbed the brown bag PB&J sandwich right out of your child’s little hand.

If you haven’t got the stomach to read the whole article, here’s the gist of it.   The principal of Little Village Academy decided to ban parents from packing their children’s lunches when she observed that many of the children were coming to school with “bottles of soda and flaming hot chips.”  She deemed it would be better for the children to eat in the school cafeteria rather than suffer the effects of their parents nutritionally poor choices.  “Nutrition wise, it is better for the children to eat at the school,” Principal Elsa Carmona said. “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.”

Aside from the fact that the home packed school lunch is almost a sacred part of any American childhood, I’m downright offended that a school can attempt to force feed children what it decides is right.  What’s next?  Will the school choose which pediatrician they should go to?  Will the principal go door to door and make sure that each child is brushing their teeth at night using the correct type of toothpaste?

It’s all fine and good for schools to teach children and their families about proper nutrition.  Have all the videos and presentations and worksheets you want.  But do not presume to tell me that I can’t pack my child’s lunch because it might not meet the school’s nutritional standards.

In case you were wondering, Little Village Academy is part of the Chicago Public School system. “While there is no formal policy, principals use common sense judgment based on their individual school environments,” CPS spokeswoman Monique Bond told the Tribune. “In this case, this principal is encouraging the healthier choices and attempting to make an impact that extends beyond the classroom.”  In looking at the school’s website, the demographics of the school appear to be heavily Hispanic, where culturally the favorite foods might be considered higher in fats and carbohydrates.  I wager that after a “healthy” lunch of salad and plain turkey sandwiches, those children probably head for the nearest bodega on the way home for something that tastes really good – like soda and flaming hot chips.

Oh I know, kids need to eat better.  But kids are kids, and the more you “force” them to do what’s good for them, the more enticing you make what’s bad for them seem to be.

And this habit of intruding official-dom of one sort or another into the private lives of the American people has got to stop.

Or I’ll be making a run for the border myself.







8 thoughts on “On the Border-Line

  1. Thanks for saying everything I felt when I read this news earlier, but which Twitter’s 140-character limit (and my schedule) would not allow.

    I’m not sure which is more damning to the American public: That some of us pack our kids lunches consisting entirely of processed junk, or that when government decides to forbid us all from packing that lunch ever again, we don’t immediately and unanimously reject it for the oppressive pap that it is.

  2. I read this same article earlier this afternoon. I was so enraged I had to push back from the computer and take a walk.

    The absolute temerity of these officials is not only distressing, it’s un-nerving. The government seems to have made an across-the-board assumption that they have the right to intrude into every aspect of our lives because THEY know better than we do what is right, moral and just.

    I say to them – if you don’t want us in your danged bedrooms, then get out of our kids’ lunchboxes, our cars, our heating and cooling systems, our restaurants and our doctors’ offices. Oh – and our lightbulb sockets.

    I have just about had it.

  3. This comment from a mom who lets her kid eat his ice cream cone before his Kids Meal from Chick-fil-A. It will melt, hello. 🙂

    As a former journalist, this makes one heck of a news story.

  4. I’m smiling with the saddest of smiles…from a teacher’s point of view, we are entering the most alarming of times. I agree with everything you said about the presumptuousness of telling parents they can’t pack their children’s lunches. (At the same time, have you seen some of the idiots in Chicago called ‘parents’? Don’t get me started on the lack of parenting I see in abundance. All of us literate bloggers are assuming a whole skill set which simply isn’t there.)

    Even more distressing to me, as an educator, is the idea of the national core curriculum. Have you heard about that one? That’s basically where the subjects and standards taught are nationalized. OMG. When were government policies ever effective? Can you imagine getting the children from all corners of America to learn the same thing and prove it by passing the same test? Whether I like it or not, it’s here: we will have the test for a national core curriculum in Mathematics and English/Language Arts for 2014-2015. Then, if the children don’t perform well enough, the test can just be dumbed down so everyone can pass it.

    My heart is in my throat for the state of education, for teaching, for parenting, for children, and for America itself. There’s so much I used to believe in, which now makes me just shake my head in dismay.

    • I know you’re right – there are lots and lots of children out there whose parents don’t have a clue how to take care of them. But when we start letting government of any sort dictate whether you can pack you child’s lunch, it’s only a tiny step away from dictating where you take them to church, or what they’ll learn in school – oh, wait – according to the rest of your comment, we’re already there. My teacher friends are crying along with you – I hear it from them all the time. Bless them, and you, for hanging in there…for the kids.

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