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Tempe Elementary Schools put our tax dollars to good use again this week when they mailed us a glossy ad package, which included a DVD, claiming that parents would not find a "better educational alternative" than their schools anywhere.
Wow, such boldness made me doubt our humble homeschooling efforts (ha!), so I went online to see what was so special that I could not provide.
Immediately, the "Breakfast & Lunch Menus" caught my attention. Not at all what I had come to the website for, but being interested in healthy eating, this piqued my curiosity. I know much has been done in recent year (at least around here) to make the food served in schools appear more nutritious and healthy. You know, kind of like McDonald's sells oatmeal for breakfast, but fast food is just fast food no matter how you package it (in case you don't know, school lunches are comparable in quality to fast food).
I must admit, I was surprised at the many options they provide. Whoever makes the meal plans, designs the menu, includes dietary information, etc. is sincerely trying to do a good job with it. Having near unlimited funds, I guess that can be expected of them - I was just surprised to actually see them doing it.
What surprised me even more, though, was the price. $1 for breakfast, and $1.85 for lunch. Wow! Even at that low of a price, right on the menu, parents are encouraged to apply for reduced lunches:
Your child may be eligible for free or reduced meals. Stop by your school’s office to pick up a lunch application.
Oh, and I also liked this:
In the operation of the child feeding programs, no child will be discriminated against because of race, sex, color, national origin, age or handicap. If you believe you have been discriminated against, write to the Secretary of Agriculture, Washington, D.C. 20250.
"Child feeding program"? That sounds like animal feeding at the zoo. And I am sure some bureaucrat in D.C. really lays awake at night because your child was discriminated against.
Reduced breakfast is only 20 cents, lunch is 40 cents!! Now I was really curious. Just how much money can you earn in order to still qualify for the reduced meals?
For our family, that means we could earn almost $78,000 per year and still have each child fed two out of their three meals for $.60 per day. By the way, this is true year-round, as Tempe Schools also offer free summer school, and continue the school lunch program during most of summer break.
Add to that the fact that free, all-day Kindergarten starts at age 4 here, and I could have four of our six kids babysat and fed all day for only $2.40. In addition, families with qualifying incomes can take advantage of the Tempe Preschools starting at age 2, so based on the above income guidelines I am taking a wild guess and thinking that their definition of "low income" is equally ridiculous. I could probably get Becky in that for free, too.
And all these years I had been wondering why the school bus picks up kids on our street at 7:20 am, not to bring them home again until 4:20 pm, when school starts at 9 am and they do five hours of instruction per day in elementary school. Now I know.
Of course, nothing is "free" or "reduced" about these lunches. The money to cover the difference is coming from somewhere. Specifically, from our exorb
.itant property and sales taxes. In Tempe, we now even pay sales tax on food. The tax rate for merchandise has recently crossed into the double-digits - we are more than tithing to our local government on purchases alone. This is socialism at its best - taking large amounts of our money from us, then spending it in "our best interest", and letting us live off the government's room, board, and allowance (i.e. housing and food assistance).
I hate to break it to you, but we spend quite a bit more than $.60 cents/day to feed each child breakfast and lunch, since we provide organic whole foods and not subsidized fast food. We also do not get any tax credits or write-offs for homeschooling, even though our doing so saves Tempe about $10,000 per child per year. If I had the house to myself for 9 hours every day, I could take on many more translating assignments, and earn a small fortune without ever leaving the house. Like other moms who have their kids babysat by the government, I could clean my house once the kids leave, and then goof off on the internet for the rest of the day, hang on the phone, watch TV, or pursue other entirely worthless activities.
Truly, I can see the temptation in doing all of the above. Until I remember that the true price parents pay is having their children's minds and hearts corrupted, and their lives permanently put on the wrong track. They pay for it when their teenage daughter winds up pregnant, when their son tries drugs or alcohol, when they care more about their peers at school than their own siblings, when they end up living in fornication, when they have an abortion because of inconvenience, and many other like scenarios. Sure, there will be exceptions to this rule, but these will be just that - exceptions.
Even though I am sure that our home life is secure and strong enough to make our children able to weather going to public school, we'll just pay extra to spare them from having to do so. All other factors aside, we only get to have our children for a few years - why would we send them away for the majority of their waking hours?
Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.