September 8, 2021

Gregory Sampson: A Free Lunch For All

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Blogging as Grumpy Old Teacher, Gregory Sampson looks at the decision by a Wisconsin school board to stop “spoiling” students with free lunches, and reflects on what schools have become.

Once we stop throwing pejoratives like ‘free-loader’ and ‘socialist’ at one another, maybe we can take counsel together about what we have turned our schools into and what we want them to be.

Like it or not, our schools have become the safety net, not of last resort, but of the only resort. Schools are expected to provide full services for children, including counseling, health-screening, trauma treatment, mentoring, health treatment, menstrual products for girls, and even laundry.

Grumpy Old Teacher (GOT) supposes that doing laundry for parents may be spoiling the family, but it has been shown to reduce truancy. A lot of kids don’t show up because they are too embarrassed to be with their peers in dirty or smelly clothing.

That gets to the heart of the issue. There are intellectual arguments to be made and debates to be had about the nature of liberty and personal responsibility. But America historically has been a pragmatic country; it throws aside the ivory tower debates to determine what end must result. Do we want children adequately fed, clothed, and housed or not–regardless of their parents’ income or wealth?

If you believe that children should go hungry, dirty, smell, and be ill because their parents did not provide for their basic needs, GOT doesn’t know how to convince you that you’re wrong. Don’t hide behind your religion, either. Hear the words of the Gospel: “I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and you did not look after me … whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.”

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