Thursday, December 02, 2004

No "free" lunch

Posted by Craig Westover | 1:37 PM |  

There's an interesting article at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, a community newspaper committed to meeting the news and information needs of African Americans. The article is an extended interview with the superintendent of the Minneapolis Public School (MPS) Thandiwe Peebles about her first 90 days in the job and the "land mines" she's found. Interesting reading, but what jumped out at me was this sentence --

Some children are not going to go up for the free lunch because they don't want the stigma of somebody seeing that they get lunch free and somebody else has tickets.
Seems the kids understand something that some adults don't.

Now please -- I'm not in favor of kids starving themselves out of fear of humiliation. But what we read about and see happening in the public forum tells me these kids will likely be told that "A free lunch is something you are entitled to. Everybody has a right to a good meal."

The reality is, somebody worked hard to pay for that meal. Far better to tell the kids that they have an obligation to the people paying for that meal and "The best way to pay back that debt is by working hard in school, appreciate your education, and use it to achieve something in life." It's not a "free lunch." It's an investment in the kid's future. A debt to be repaid.

An "age inappropriate" message? No, kids will -- do -- understand; unfortunately, the adults teaching them don't.