(Guest post by Greg Forster)
Theorists like Amy Gutmann argue that parental freedom needs to be compromised in the name of democracy because parents can’t be trusted as the default authority over the education of children. Jay has frequently responded by pointing out that this logic, applied consistently, would produce not just government control of formal schooling but government control of every aspect of child-rearing. One example I’ve seen him use to devastating effect is to point out that we don’t establish government control over children’s meals in order to ensure kids are getting proper nutrition. Jay suggests that this inconsistency indicates that these theories of democracy are really invented post facto to justify social institutions whose real existential principle is to provide unions with a gravy train.
Well, Jay, you should be careful what you ask for.
The Chicago Tribune reports that some Chicago schools – a government spokesperson declines to say how many – forbid students to bring any food from home unless they have a medical excuse.
Principal Elsa Carmona said her intention is to protect students from their own unhealthful food choices.
“Nutrition wise, it is better for the children to eat at the school,” 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. But with allergies and any medical issue, of course, we would make an exception.”
Carmona said she created the policy six years ago after watching students bring “bottles of soda and flaming hot chips” on field trips for their lunch. Although she would not name any other schools that employ such practices, she said it was fairly common. [ea]
The Tribune headline writer makes an amusing attempt to soften the obvious implications here – the headline says the school forbids only “some lunches” from home. The actual policy described in the article is that all food from home is banned unless you challenge the ban and have a special medical reason.
Most readers of JPGB probably won’t need to have the real agenda spelled out here. Kudos to the Trib writers, Monica Eng and Joel Hood, for spelling it out to the paper’s readers:
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.
This lunchroom needs a better class of criminal.
It’s the same basic principle that has been driving the runaway overhiring of teachers for decades. It just involves the extension of the principle to a new sphere of social control.