H.R. Bill 610 – Republicans Looking to Add School Choice and Amend the No More Fat Kids Act

I have never understood the backlash against school choice.  When companies compete for your business, good ones thrive and bad ones fail.  The same can’t be said for schools, because they are government funded, and therefore ultimately controlled by government even if they are locally operated.  Healthy competition could change the status quo, and besides, why should your child have only one option for public school based on where you live?

The defunding of public education, charter schools, money to the rich, paying parents to educate their own children, oh the horror!  Why shouldn’t parents be allowed to apply government funds towards their child’s education as they see fit, especially when those funds would be paid out if the same children went to public schools.  The very same public schools, by the way, that everyone declares are failing.  We find out over and over again that throwing more money at a problem just doesn’t work.  The government typically responds by tinkering with regulation.

Republicans are being bashed for wanting to amend the No Hungry Kids Act.  To the contrary, the Nutritional Act of 2012 might as well be called the “No More Fat Kids Act” because it actually limits the number of calories by age that a child may have on their breakfast or lunch plate.  Imagine Oliver Twist begging for more food to eat or even stash for later – sorry kid, you can’t have it, gotta comply with the No Hungry Kids Act.  Just so you know, one of the proposed amendments involves abolishing the organic food pilot program which authorizes ten million dollars per year.  Good call.

Let’s focus on the food, mostly because everyone understands food.  However, when you read the following please know that even more regulations exist outside of food rules.  When you research current statutes about school meals, you will find loads of laws including Special Milk Program, School Breakfast Program, Summer Food Service Program, Child and Adult Care Good Program, Nutrition Education and Training Program, Determining Eligibility for Free and Reduced Meals and Free Milk in Schools, Nutrition Standards in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs, Recordkeeping, Claims for Reimbursement, School Food Authorities and so on and so forth.  Have a headache yet?  Are you picturing dollar bills going down the toilet?  Parents already know that broccoli on a child’s plate doesn’t mean said broccoli won’t end up in the trash as another waste of money.  Oh, but the reporting requirements still apply.

School staff has to include compliance officers who fill out reports to send to the government to prove they are following the law.  I’m quite sure schools would rather hire more teachers, aides, and supplies instead of spending the very same government funding they are receiving on man hours to send reports back to the government, who in turn has to review said reports and respond accordingly.  Read it again.  It’s a lose-lose situation.

A couple of phrases come to mind.  First, don’t over think it.  Second, keep it simple, stupid.  Can schools seriously not come up with their own meal plans?  I say the food amendments don’t go far enough.  Get rid of the whole bureaucratic food regulatory nightmare and send the decisions back to the schools.  The savings on both ends might even cover free meals for every child in America.

That leads us back to choice.  You, as a parent, have a choice in your child’s meal.  If you don’t like what is being served, you may send a sack lunch, and it doesn’t even have to comply with government regulation.  Now imagine if little Johnny is being served a bad plate of education.  This new bill will make it easier for you to speak up and be heard, or go elsewhere as you see fit.  It will be your choice.

Chew it over, perhaps over dinner, and be glad you don’t have to submit a report.

Wilfred Knight

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