Putting The "Loco" In "In Loco Parentis"

In Chicago, school officials are deeply concerned about the nutrition of their students. So concerned, in fact, that they have decided that the best thing they can do to help the students is to ban them from bringing in their own lunches, and requiring them to buy their lunches from school.

I started writing reasons why parents might prefer to supply their kids with their own meals. My first thought was children with special nutritional needs, but that’s covered — if the parents get a note from their doctor, they’re excused.

Then I thought of other reasons. The children might be vegetarians, and the school’s choices not up to the parents’ standards. The child might be Jewish or Muslim, and have cultural restrictions covering food preparations. The child simply might not like a hot lunch. The mother might be a very old-school kind of mom, and see it as part of her maternal duty and carrying on a family tradition by making her children’s lunches. They might not want to have to keep track of the lunch schedule, and adjust the family’s dinner accordingly.

And then I realized that to even offer such reasons was to concede the point to the Nanny Statists. that they had the right to make such a determination, and it was incumbent upon the parents to request exceptions. No, the only way to react to such a naked assertion of dominance is to reject it — categorically, without explanation or concession or apology.

There are exactly two reasons why the Chicago school officials would make such a move. The first is the overweening need of liberals to control people, to keep them from making “wrong” choices by depriving them of the ability to make any choices at all. Because some parents are, in the eyes of the school officials, aren’t as responsible with regards to their children’s nutrition as they could be, then all the parents must be stripped of their rights to make such choices.

The second one is even older than the first: greed. Lunch programs are money-makers for schools. They almost always cost less to operate than they take in. And in the cases of poor parents, all the better — they can qualify for subsidized or free lunches, so the parents don’t even see the costs. All they have to do is swallow their pride and admit that they can’t provide for their children to the satisfaction of the school officials.

The Chicago Tribune story opens with the description of a young student firebrand who is rebelling against the policy. May he have a thousand brothers and sisters, and may those thousand firebrands have courageous and supportive parents.

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