What Are We Teaching Our Children?

Recently there was an incident in one of our local schools that has caused me to wonder about what we are teaching our children in school–both in textbooks and in experience.

On April 5th, WCVB Boston reported the following:

Outraged parents said some students at Coelho Middle School cried when they were told by a worker for the district’s food service provider they could not eat on Tuesday because they couldn’t pay or their pre-paid accounts were short on funds.
The on-site director for the company, Whitsons Culinary Group of Islandia, N.Y., was placed on administrative leave by Superintendent Pia Durkin, who has ordered cafeteria workers not to deny any child food.

Today, the Attleboro Sun Chronicle reported:

News that dozens of students at Coelho Middle School were denied lunch for a lack of cash touched off anger among parents and the public, but an anonymous unseen feeding frenzy of outrage launched against school administrators via the Internet was far worse coming with personal threats.

Superintendent Pia Durkin said Wednesday that she and her family were threatened, as was Coelho Principal Andrew Boles.

What in the world is going on?

It is unfortunate that students were denied lunches because their lunchroom accounts were empty, but I don’t understand why the people working in the lunchroom were held responsible for taking a common sense approach to the matter.  Would you expect to eat at a restaurant and not pay for your meal? There are a few obvious solutions to this situation that I believe should have been in place to prevent this incident. First of all, what is the procedure for notifying parents or students that their accounts are low? Haven’t Middle School children had enough basic experience with money to know that when you buy something you pay for it? Why isn’t there a Plan B in effect that says if your account is empty and you can’t buy lunch, the cafeteria gives you a complementary soy butter (I believe peanut butter is not allowed in schools these days) and jelly sandwich and a carton of regular milk and sends you on your way. You don’t go hungry, but you don’t necessarily get the lunch you really want.

What are we teaching these children? How is it fair to the children whose accounts are paid and up to date that other children get the same lunch without paying for it? How in the world are the cafeteria workers responsible for providing lunch for students that have not paid?

It is truly unfortunate that the cafeteria workers were fired over this incident. Do they have a union? If so, why is that union silent? I can’t imagine someone in a retail store of any kind doing anything different. The way this incident has been handled will only contribute to a ‘gimme’ attitude on the part of the students and an entitlement attitude among their parents. This does not bode well for the future of our country.

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