I tend to stay away from religion and politics in this blog. I've found that nothing will alienate people as quickly as declaring one's affiliations up-front, and you can't have a productive conversation with someone who's already decided to disagree with you.
The four of us – Millie, Mollie, Maggie and May – may self-identify differently so far as political or religious labels are concerned, but where the rubber hits the road on most topics – love, marriage, child-rearing, right and wrong – we tend to agree with one another, more often than not, pretty much right down the line.
However, it's hard for me to imagine any thinking being agreeing with what's happening in one Chicago public school.
Briefly, Chicago's Little Village Academy – a public school, despite the pretentious name – has outlawed sack lunches. The kids can eat the cafeteria lunch – or they can go without.
Citizens, this is over-reaching.
I get that it's fashionable nowadays to bemoan the “epidemic of obesity” among today's youth; I get that it's difficult to teach kids who are wired on sugar or buzzed on caffeine; I even understand that school is a place to learn to make intelligent choices in all sorts of categories, including health. In fact, that's my point in a nutshell:
School is a place to learn.
School is not a health clinic (though some schools do have health clinics, that is not the educational system's function). School is not a day-care center. School is not a dentist's office or a political indoctrination center or a church. School is a place to learn how to make small decisions so that, as adults, you can make the big decisions for yourself.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not a proponent of a bag of Big Macs for every meal. I think that healthy kids need healthy food, exercise, fresh air and plenty of sleep. School work = brain work = hard work, and they need fuel that will carry them through the day with stamina and energy.
Neither do I think that an occasional Twinkie will hurt anything.
The point is that what my kids eat – as well as what they wear, where they live, how they worship and whether or not they take fluoride pills – is my business. These things are judgment calls – and in the case of my child, the only judgment that counts is mine.
The public school district – which I hasten to remind you is run by your government on your tax dollars – has the right to recommend that parents keep the soft drinks and the candy bars out of the lunch boxes. They have the right to recommend water instead of milk, whole-wheat wraps instead of white bread or low-salt options. However, they are not private schools – they do not have the right to make these decisions for families.
The principal at Little Village Academy, Elsa Carmona, disagrees. She told the Chicago Tribune, "Nutrition wise, it is better for the children to eat at the school. . . . It's milk versus a Coke."
That is a choice for PARENTS to make.