I do resent when embarrassing headlines are created around the nation by foolish actions from those who live in Wisconsin. That is the result today due to the purely political actions of a local school board.
The Waukesha School District board decided to opt-out of a federally funded program that would give free meals to all students regardless of family income. That is not a misprint, in case you are reading that line twice.
The backstory is that the school board voted on June 9th to return to the pre-pandemic National School Lunch Program, which offers free and reduced-price lunches to students who apply and receive federal money for them. It should be noted, however, that Waukesha is the only eligible school district in our state to up-end such funding.
As a side note, each of the state’s public schools adopted the universal meal program in March 2020. Now, the very Republican enclave is striking back.
The rhetoric that flowed from the board meeting even included board members who stated the reason to stop what is termed ‘universal’ lunch programming was to prevent an “addiction” to the service.
Karin Rajnicek, a school board member, said the free program made it easy for families to “become spoiled.” Darren Clark, assistant superintendent for business services, said there could be a “slow addiction” to the service.
Left unstated at the meeting was any mention if all this “addiction” will lead to more corporate welfare for the conservative business owners in the school district. (Ring…Ring….Hello….Pot calling Kettle.)
The out-and-out meanness and coarseness of the board action are most obvious.
The COVID pandemic is running wild and it does not take very long to see how the economic impact of the virus has made money tighter for many families. There continues to be a real need for some families to have food assistance to make it through this tragic time in our state and nation.
In addition, we are aware that often kids can be very callous with remarks aimed at those who are somehow ‘different’ or apart from the whole. By not having some kids, who can pay their way with school lunches, looking down on those who need assistance is one less stressful event in our schools.
The rank move by the board on June 9th can be chalked up to yet another form of political purity. Conservative politics is fine and dandy until it starts to damage those who are most vulnerable in our society. I place young students, who through no fault of their own, grow up in homes with limited means as being among the vulnerable.
It is then most appropriate that the rest of us find a way to best educate and uplift our youth. That was being done through the free meals program.
Conservative Republicans in Waukesha have proven in both word and deed that being kind, supportive, and humane is not a condition that all our state school boards have in equal measure. The universal way of allowing kids, who have fewer means, to have a school lunch with no guilt or bad feelings is the best route to proceed with this school year.
The only “spoiling” that occurs is with too many state residents putting up with the utter disdain conservatives continue to have for the rest of the state. Allowing them to think their behavior–as demonstrated with this issue–is in any way acceptable–only adds to the problem.
And so it goes.