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If Ward 2 school board member Westy Byrd can arrange to have me hired to fulfill part of the platform on which I ran against her (and lost) in 1998, I will do my best to eliminate the shocking conditions Washington City Paper reporter Laura Lang revealed in “No Free Lunch” (1/14).
Specifically, all schoolchildren should be taught—again and again as they pass through the system, so they may retain this skill when they become parents—basic survival information.
Here, you (the parent) must fill out the proper paperwork to get fed the lunches you (the child) are entitled to receive as a U.S. resident enrolled in a public school. (Later on, you must also fill out forms to drive a car, vote, work, get married, and receive your annual tax refund.)
Ex-military people, who inspire discipline and whose salaries would be paid for by the city, should be hired as children’s role models. I had such a model in high school.
In a schoolwide assembly, the principal and the leading ex-military person could say that X fewer kids are being fed their free school lunches, and that this figure translates into fewer new library books and computers. Until the ex-military are hired, classroom teachers should make such announcements, with better-fed and therefore more attentive students a direct result of this approach.
To help eliminate the stigma of receiving free lunches in the city’s high schools, the ex-military people should talk (and joke) about their own free-food experiences while in the service: “We ate for free while we served, and many of you are entitled to eat for free while you learn,” they could tell student assemblies.
Finally, college sociology and economics introductory classes could each “adopt” a school, with students visiting the homes of poor students, to help parents fill out the necessary paperwork—and to see for themselves just how people actually live only a few miles from campus. (This idea would also provide continuing employment for ex-census-takers.)