Florida School Proposes Letting Rich Kids Cut to the Front of the Lunch Line & Outrage Ensues


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The whole point of public education is to ensure that all kids, regardless of socioeconomic status, get a chance at a free, quality education. That's not to say that public school systems don't have their downsides, because they definitely do. But that doesn't change the fact that they aren't supposed to work like private institutions where parents and students can buy their way into higher-quality treatment and services. Apparently, the PTSA at this Florida school has completely forgotten that. Parents in Lakeland, Florida, are outraged over a PTSA sponsorship program introduced this year that would allow parents to essentially buy their children "front of the lunch line" passes for $100.

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The sponsorship program was created by the PTSA at the Lawton Chiles Middle Academy in an effort to raise funds for the school. When parents attended orientation for the 2017–2018 school year, they received a form that not only asked for donations, but also offered incentives.

For a $50 donation, families get their last names featured on the school's website; for $100, they can request to have their company's logo featured instead and purchase a "front of the lunch line pass" for their children.

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We doubt the front-of-the-lunch-line-pass incentive was created maliciously, but the possible harm it could impose on the children attending LCMA completely negates the original intent. The program has, understandably, caused outrage among many of the parents at the school.

"Polk County has got a very high rate of food insecurity when it comes to kids," dad Chris Stephenson said in an interview with News Channel 8. "With middle school already being a very contentious age, with hormones and everything else, the last thing you really want to do is add a food hierarchy on top of that."

 

According to the school's principal, Brian Andrews, the PTSA failed to get approval before presenting its ideas to parents. "Nobody's a second-class citizen here," he said. "Sometimes people make mistakes. I don't think it was anything intentional at all. We just want to get it right, move forward, and apologize."

Principal Andrews has since canceled the fundraiser and spoken to the PTSA committee, prompting the group to release a statement, claiming that the form was sent home with children due to a "clerical error":

"The Lawton Chiles Middle academy PTSA is a group of volunteers including Parents, Teachers, Students and Administrators. We strive to look for new and innovative fundraising ideas to enhance the school experience for our students. We offer a variety of fundraising options for our students and families to choose from each year. This Family and Business Sponsorship program was explored, but we decided to not implement. Due to a clerical error, the form was inadvertently included in the Orientation packets. Our families have been notified this program is not being offered. The intent of our PTSA is to always do the best for our students and families. – Jil Beis, LCMA PTSA President 2017-2018"

The immediate rollback of this incentive program is obviously a good thing, but we can't help but stress the fact that there is nothing "new and innovative" about allowing privileged kids to receive benefits over their peers in settings where everyone is supposed to be treated as an equal.

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