School Tells Parents That Their Kids Can Cut the Lunch Line for $100

A school in Polk County, Florida recently sent orientation packets to parents that included a “special offer:” make a $100 donation to the Parent-Teacher-Student-Alliance and your kid will get a pass to the front of the lunch line!

My first question is “if enough parents make this donation, how will the school decide which lunch-line-pass kid should go first,” because nobody wants to be the parent who donated $100 so their kid could be second in line, right?

Boing Boing breaks it down a little further:

The fact that this is a regressive tax (costing a disproportionate fraction of poor families’ discretionary funds, and a smaller fraction of wealthier families’ funds) is irrelevant. The rich families are rich because they are “job creators” whose time is worth more than poor families, who are “takers.” So by freeing the wealthy to enjoy their lunch, play, and learning, we encourage the creation of more “prosperity” that can trickle down to the poor kids.

So the PTSA could invest this money in books for the library! And then they could create a “front-of-the-line” program for library borrowing, too! Another $100 gets your kid first crack at the books that you “subsidized” by buying them the front of the lunch-line package. Then, when all the rich kids are done with the books, the poor kids can read them.

And if your kid needs extra tutoring at school, well, we can just create a $100 front-of-the-line package for after-school meetings with teachers, and use the funds to pay for better desks. Then we can create a $100 package for access to those desks.

Lawton Chiles Middle Academy has since issued a statement explaining that this lunch line thing was a mistake, it was just an idea they were discussing that accidentally got printed and sent to all the parents:

We look to 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 not to 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.

To be fair, the photos of the orientation packet make it look like the text wasn’t proofread. But the “pay for your kid’s lunch line pass” thing got at least as far as the first typed draft of the orientation materials, which means the school was taking it pretty seriously. It wasn’t like they scribbled the idea on a whiteboard somewhere and decided to reject it; this was almost school policy, and the cynical side of me wonders if it would have become policy if parents had been enthusiastic instead of outraged.

I also wonder if the kids would have been all that enthusiastic about getting to cut the lunch line. Sure, you get your rectangle pizza before everyone else, but you also get singled out and potentially separated from your friends. On the other hand, it’s a great way to start networking—sorry, making friends—with the other kids whose parents can afford the lunch pass!