Monday, May 09, 2011

The Scarlet Dollar

If a kid in Albert Lea gets behind on his lunch money account, here's what happens, according to MPR:
Some districts provide little to no assistance when a child's account runs out of money. Albert Lea Area Schools allow students to "charge" up to three lunches. If the parents still haven't paid, the district provides a bread and butter sandwich and milk for three more days. After that, the district stops providing any food. Lunchroom workers stamp elementary students' hands with a red dollar sign to remind their parents to pay.
A stamp on the hand? Why not put that sucker right on the child's forehead? It'd be much more obvious.

We shouldn't single out Albert Lea; according to the article, a number of school districts have similar -- sometimes, but now always, more discreet -- policies.

Kids who don't eat lunch have trouble learning and are a disruption to their classes:
Teachers said the policies have a clear impact on the ability of children to learn in the classroom. Anne Krafthefer, a fifth-grade teacher in Duluth, said it's common for children to start fights or act up in class when they haven't eaten.
 Krafthefer also teaches GED classes for adults who dropped out of school. She said many of those students share childhood stories of feeling neglected by both their parents and their school. "Feeding a child is a way of saying, 'We care about you,'" she said. "If there's warm food there, that's one more reason for kids who are living in poverty to get to school and participate."

There are free and reduced-fee lunch programs with uneven effort made to get eligible kids enrolled.

Rob has been writing about influences on student learning that are beyond and overwhelm the efforts of a classroom teacher. This is but one example.

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