Monday, July 07, 2008

Government As Parent, Part 2

In Part 1, I point out for the umpteenth time why I want government to get out of the role of parenting. I don't like what I see happening in Britain, and I don't want to see it happening here. Former student and current blog commenter Ronnie disagrees with me:

I'm not saying the government is ever going to be better than the average parent, but it should at least be better than the worst, and I happen to feel that if such programs could help any child they are worth it.

He also said this:

My position isn't that they should be told things by *my* people or *your* people, but be told facts by doctors or at least specifically trained professionals.

In Part 1 the "trained professionals" were pushing for mandatory sex education for children as young as 4 in an attempt to curb teenage pregnancies and STDs. Let's see what they're pushing for today:

Children should be locked inside school grounds to stop them buying unhealthy food from shops and takeaways, a minister said yesterday.

The proposal comes amid new evidence that the Jamie Oliver-inspired drive to make school kitchens offer more nutritious meals is being shunned by pupils in favour of junk food.

It's not a stretch of the imagination to foresee a time when students will not be allowed to bring certain foods at all to school--in fact, it's already happening.

It may come as a surprise to my recent students, many of whom probably have lived under "closed campuses" their entire school lives, but I lived my entire school life in an "open campus" environment--even in elementary school. All it took was a note from home and we could leave school at lunchtime; of course, we went home to eat lunch, and got back in time, but it wasn't the school's business at all what we ate. In high school, we could leave campus any time we weren't in class.

California already has some law on the books about schools' not selling so-called junk foods to students. What's next, telling parents what they can and can't send to school in their children's lunches, and then inspecting those lunches to ensure parents comply? It's happening, and I wrote about it in a post called Lunchbox Voyeur.

So why, exactly, are so many students wanting to eat away from school? Let's return to the Mail Online article:

Virtually all the children who were allowed out bought food from local shops, mainly fizzy drinks, chocolate, sweets, crisps, cakes, biscuits and chips.

The researchers found it was not the healthy menus in school canteens that were deterring the pupils so much as long queues, poor facilities and high prices. (emphasis mine--Darren)

Interesting. Looks like the free market is providing a service that the government isn't, and at a more reasonable price. If you want to see more free market responses to these nanny-staters, look at the picture in the article, as well as its caption. It's a hoot!

One of my earliest blog posts was called School Lunches and the Nanny State. Government compulsion is alive and well in our schools, and it's pushing its way into what we teachers and students get to eat for lunch. Do you really want a government that intrusive, even if it's "good for you" or dictated by "specifically trained professionals"? I don't.

Update: if your children don't like the food that the government nutritionist thinks they should try, perhaps your kids are racists.

Toddlers who turn their noses up at spicy food from overseas could be branded racists by a Government-sponsored agency.

Some might suggest I'm being alarmist. After reading these stories about what socialist governments are doing, tell me I don't have a reason to be.

Update #2, 7/9/08: Drew Carey has an interesting take in this video, called Nanny State Nation: "Every little thing the government does is backed up by guns and force." That's part of the reason I don't want to give the government too much power, and part of the reason I've changed my mind over the past two decades and now firmly support the 2nd Amendment.


Anonymous said...

My (now former) school district instituted a so-called "Wellness Policy" that banned vending machines with "unhealthy" food, school fundraisers involving food (bakesales and the like), anyone bringing food in for their whole class, and teachers using food as a reward. So the class parties I had in elementary school would now have to be food free, my eighth grade science teacher can't read off trivial pursuit cards during spare minutes in class with candy as a reward for the correct answer, and the high school band classes can't sell candy bars as a fundraiser. Just about the only bright side of the matter is that my brother's best friend now has a booming business selling cans od soda out of his locker. :)

Mrs. C said...

My older children HAD THEIR LUNCHES TAKEN by the school and were forced to buy the school lunch once when I ran out of bread and sent the boys to school with granola bars and a juice drink for lunch.

Don't they have other things to worry about? Like drugs or something? Sigh. I didn't say anything because unlike them, I'm gonna pick my battles.

nebraska girl said...

I didn't see a link for the article quoted for part 2. Did I just miss it? I might just be having a Monday.

Darren said...

Apologies. The link is now embedded in the post.

rightwingprof said...

Closed campus? Do you mean there are schools that essentially hold students prisoner for the day?

I had no idea.

Darren said...

Now you do, as your understanding is exactly correct.

Ellen K said...

Our district forbids school parties and bake sales, which forced the prom tickets, which were subsidized by cookie sales, to go through the roof. My kids' former elementary bans anything with peanut butter, which would have been a real problem when my kids were in school because that is pretty much what they ate every single day. It is as if we are altering every single social structure for the comfort of the relative few at the expense of the majority. And I only see this getting worse with the current Congress (now at a stellar 9% approval rating) and a liberal and inexperienced president. God help us all.

Ellen K said...

PS. The reason my kids brought their lunches is because they HATED the school meals. The lines were so long that there was seldom more than five minutes to eat. The food was never enough for the boys and was too fried and fatty for my daughter. They all made their own sandwiches, snagged apples or bananas from the fridge and took a soda or juice. It was fresh, it was filling, it was cheap and it was food they liked. I foresee district eventually banning all outside food. Pity the kid that isn't a vegetarian or who has a larger appetite. Our district won't allow students more than one mean and four chicken tenders doesn't get a six foot three football player very far nutritionally.

Ronnie said...

I don't understand the complaint since the whole argument relies on the assumption that "students will not be allowed to bring certain foods at all to school" at some point in the future. That time has not come, and I see it as a relatively large assumption that it ever will come. If your point is "look we already have closed campuses, and can't share home cooked food" both of those had relatively reasonable reasons to be stopped.

If you look at how short our lunch is, how far away food is, and how long it would take to get the food, no one could get food and eat it during the amount of time we have for lunch. We have a hard enough time keeping students at school the entire day, and on the occasions when I have seen students go off campus with official clearance they rarely come back on time.

With respect to sharing food brought from home it's an interesting situation. I know you are for parents rights so I see the situation as giving the parent more control over what their children eat. Student made food is more likely to be contaminated in some way or another than professionally cooked food, so banning the sharing of said food allows the parent to decide through paying for the students lunch or providing an individual lunch for them.

Mrs. C's situation seems the most agreeable to your assumptions about the future although the details are lacking and nothing close to that has been tried in our district. I know for a fact that many parents would be rightfully angry if the government decided what they could feed their children, but this isn't anywhere near the case. If the government is going to provide food it would like to provide healthier food prepared safely. If your going to eat food from home they would rather you be the only one to eat it so your parent is responsible for what you ate, instead of tje school possibly being liable for what a classmate or teacher gave to you. So your right in saying that school food won't be what students want, but I don't see the parents' ability to give children their own food from home and have their own child eat it going away due to special diets and over-protective parents who force their children on specific diets.

allen (in Michigan) said...

If you don't have to educate the kids you've got to find something with which to justify your existence. These are just examples of folks desperate to do anything to justify their existence.

Darren said...

Ronnie, considering how far down this road we've come, I don't see how you can so easily dismiss what you seem to think is a slippery-slope argument.

Anonymous said...

What irks me is being told how to live my life by bossy people who otherwise I could ignore. These people aren't happy with live and let live, they feel compelled to make the rest of us bend to their will. I think they're born that way and they struggle all their lives to control those around them and a big statist government is the perfect tool.