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Not reacting according to Culture War sides

A Commentary

Timothy Kincaid

February 16th, 2012

Unfortunately, in today’s Culture War driven political climate, one’s political affiliation and group identity often dictates their response to issues and situations.

And our community is not immune. We make excuses for those who kinda may support us – or are, at least, affiliated in some way with our supporters – while holding to ridicule and derision proposals and ideas by those who oppose us on matters of equality whether or not those proposals or ideas have merit or impact our community uniquely in any way.

At BTB we try hard to be thoughtful rather than reactionary. We don’t always succeed, but we try. And it is in that context that I declare my agreement with Gary Bauer and Concerned Women for America on a situation.

The matter is trivial, a foolish mistake made by an overzealous government worker who turned off their brain and placed tick-boxes on a clipboard as being far more important than the purposes for those tick-boxes.

According to the Carolina Journal, an agent with the Department of Health and Human Services came to West Hoke Elementary School to inspect the lunches of pre-schoolers and make certain that they were eating an approved meal. The school decided that one four year old girl’s lunch – consisting of a turkey and cheese sandwich, banana, potato chips, and apple juice – was not adequately nutritious and so she was informed that Mommy’s lunch was bad and it was replaced with a cafeteria meal. [UPDATE: DHHS has issued a press release stating that the child was not told that Mommy's lunch was bad, that they do not inspect home prepared lunches, and that besides she was simply offered milk to supplement her meal. To date (2/17) there is no information on exactly how she came to the impression that her lunch needed additional nutritional elements or why whomever noted the lack of compliance with federal guidelines missed that the lunch the girl actually ate was not something that a nutrition-focused parent would select.]

For lunch that day, the girl ate three chicken nuggets.

Now, the right wing is delighted. Here is an example of government at its worst, lurking in your child’s classroom and making her eat chicken nuggets. And the opportunity to attack their enemies was too good to pass up.

Dr. Janice Crouse of Concerned Women for America sees Michele Obama as to blame.

I think our state legislators [and] our federal legislators have to get involved in this because regulation is coming from the top, and quite frankly, a lot of this stems from the first lady’s emphasis on nutritional requirements that the government has to certify that each child has the appropriate nutritional requirements.

Gary Bauer (who isn’t running for President this year) sees communists in the bushes.

The girl’s grandmother, who often makes her granddaughter’s lunches, asked rhetorically, “This isn’t China, is it?” Not yet, but welcome to Obama’s brave new world. If the government can force us to buy specific products, force religious institutions to violate their values and send lunchbox inspectors to sort through our kids’ food, Chinese-style “commissars” are in our future.

It’s tempting to leap to the defense of the Obamas and the federal program, isn’t it? Considering that it’s Crouse and Bauer our instinct is to disagree and insist that federal guidelines are necessary to protect the health of children. This can’t be blamed on Obama because this was never their intent and besides this error was on the part of the school. Let’s get our excuses in order and blow these right wingers out of the water…

Except that in this case they are right. Not about the ‘blame the Obamas’ part, but about this being an example of a federal government that has exceeded all reasonable boundaries and has insinuated itself much too far into the minutia of our daily lives.

If we stop for a moment, we will all agree that three chicken nuggets are not a healthier choice than a turkey and cheese sandwich, banana, potato chips, and apple juice. Some of us snort at the notion that a government which approves of chicken nuggets – about as close to poison as you can get and still call it food – has any business making any valuations about nutrition.

Some of us go further, questioning why it is that any government official, at any level, is inspecting the lunch bags that parents send with their children. Why the federal government is dictating standards at local schools for home-brought lunches, at all? When did the Senator from Alabama and the Representative from Pascagoula get the right to decide what my kid eats for lunch, anyway?

Some of us hold to the principle that a child’s health and nutrition are primarily the responsibility of that child’s parents and if they are lacking in knowledge or concern then their community – relatives, neighbors, teachers – can offer counsel. Ultimately if it raises to the level of abuse or abandonment of care, the state can step in as protector.

But to abdicate our own responsibilities as parents and community members to a federal bureaucracy is to invite lunch bag inspection. If our desire to control others and force them to do what we know is best rules the day, then control and force will be the result.

And we need not use the examples of “forcing religious institutions to violate their values” to illustrate our point. (And he’s right, as long as they are using their own money and not administering taxpayer funded programs, the Catholic Church should not be forced to pay for contraception, abortion, or any other procedures they find morally objectionable. Nor should the Gay and Lesbian Center be forced to pay for insurance that includes ex-gay counseling, for that matter.)

It’s not the poor abused conservative Christians that are the real victims of governmental excess. Rather, our own community is the very poster child for federal abuse, most of it instigated by political allies of Gary Bauer and Janet Crouse.

The State of Massachusetts is suing the federal government because the Feds refuse to honor the centuries old right of states to determine marriage (so long as they are constitutional determinations). Residents of that state – and five others – are victims not of federal lunch inspectors but of federal crotch inspectors. If there are not the right amount of penises in the relationship, then the government box-tickers will not approve. “No, don’t eat that – not enough penises. Have a chicken nugget.”

Federal legislators are actually proposing a bill that would ban equality-supporting chaplains in the military from offering the rites of their faith to military members at their own chapel if those rites affirm the commitment of a same-sex couple.

And, in a policy that every ‘small tax conservative’ and every ‘pro-business conservative’ and every ‘fewer-restrictions conservative’ should each use as example number one – but for some unknown reason they never ever seem to bring up – our Federal Government has dictated that if a business wishes to offer to its employees health insurance coverage for their spouses, the business must track gay employees separately from straight employees and report this coverage to the Federal Government so that it may tax the gay employees – but not straight employees – on their health benefits.

But Crouse and Bauer aren’t interested in government intrusion on those issues. They lobby for increased federal crotch inspection and further appropriate orientation requirements. “Don’t tell me what to do, but here’s a list of laws that we think should restrict the freedoms and equalitites of gay people.”

I think that the question we should be asking is not “Why is this program anti-gay?” or “Why is this program anti-religious?” or even “Why is this program anti-parent packed lunch?” but rather the question should simply be “Why is this program?”

If we stop fighting and hating each other enough to think, surely we can agree that we all could use a bit more liberty and independence and a little less bureaucracy in our lives.

Comments

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CPT_Doom
February 16th, 2012 | LINK

Except, the facts aren’t exactly what the right wingers are claiming – color me shocked:

http://www.thetimesnews.com/articles/lunch-52587-barnes-child.html

Muscat
February 16th, 2012 | LINK

Except that, you know, that’s not what happened.
http://ordinary-gentlemen.com/blog/2012/02/15/a-north-carolina-non-troversy/

TJ
February 16th, 2012 | LINK

Well, the little girl’s lunch was not actually confiscated. She was told that the lunch her mother packed didn’t contain milk, but that she was free to get some in the cafeteria. But, being 4 years old, she misunderstood and threw her lunch away and ate the school lunch instead.

Timothy Kincaid
February 16th, 2012 | LINK

Ah, I see the instinct to leap to defense and argue the minutia of the details was too strong to resist.

And the Culture War continues.

Alaina
February 16th, 2012 | LINK

Yeah, the girl misunderstood that she didn’t need to go through and get a whole new lunch in order to get some milk. This case has been blown way out of proportion.

That said, If her mom didn’t send her with milk, I don’t think that means that anyone has the right to make her drink it. Even so, I’m guessing there’s some flexibility in the plan, though, that has not been made clear to the public, which would allow parents to have more control over their children’s lunches than this story implies.

Blake
February 16th, 2012 | LINK

Tim, well said. I’m all for getting on an anti-out-of-control-bureaucracy bandwagon with you as long as your ideological purity extends to out-of-control-corporate-bureaucracy too.

Bureaucracy, when misapplied, can be terribly dehumanizing. Be it a government deciding who is fully human & who is 3/5ths or a corporation deciding to not recall a product b/c the cost-analysis states that the lawsuits will be cheaper than the recall.

I do quiver at the thought of a school nutrition officer inspecting everyone’s lunches. But overall, I can’t really say I have a problem with a school offering healthy supplements to children. When I was in school they made us watch some terrible videos about eating healthy (& toothpaste b/c Crest ponied up the $$) & if this program replaces those videos with something which is much less wasteful of classroom time(Crest also split it into a 10 part series with reoccurring cartoon characters & cameos by powerrangers) time then I would be inclined to support it as a step in the right direction. Rome wasn’t built in a day after-all.

PJB863
February 16th, 2012 | LINK

Good heavens, where are the lunchroom supervisors when you need them – and I don’t mean literally, but figuratively. I see a bunch of adults acting like bratty kids.

Ryan
February 16th, 2012 | LINK

“Minutia”. I believe you mean, “total fabrication”, Timothy. The federal government literally had nothing at all to do with this *voluntary program*. This should never have made the news. But yes of course, both sides are equally bad in the “culture wars”, somehow. The liars and the non-liars alike. But truth is considered “minutia”, apparently.

Pliny
February 16th, 2012 | LINK

The problem here is one of framing. It’s important – vitally important that we don’t stop listening to people just because we disagree with them, but that’s not what’s gone wrong here.

School lunch requirements in this country are severely broken and have been that way long since before Congress tried to make Ketchup a vegetable.

The program that misfired here wasn’t designed to be the lunch inspecting stazi. The idea is to make sure we don’t have school children in this country dropping from malnutrition.

Timothy Kincaid
February 16th, 2012 | LINK

Ryan,

The pre-schools and daycare centers operated within North Carolina are required to ensure that meals meet federal nutrition guidelines.

An agent from the Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Child Development and Early Education was at the school Jan. 30 assessing the pre-kindergarten program.

The agent Someone nameless, acting in conjunction with the visit did inspect the lunches of the children, including that of the little girl.

Those are all undisputed facts.

You can dispute whether someone told the girl to eat the cafeteria lunch or if she misunderstood. You can dispute whether it was a missing vegetable or milk rather than apple juice which made the little girls lunch in violation of the dictates of the federal government. You can dispute whether the agent was actually a federal employee or a state employee enforcing federal guidelines.

You can, as did the head of the state’s Health and Human Services, carefully insist that they did not remove any item from the girl’s lunch. You can even join her in insisting that a child’s lunch must have a serving of milk (not just the dairy contained in the girl’s turkey and cheese sandwich).

But you cannot say that the story was a fabrication, that the program is voluntary in any way that is meaningful to a parent, or especially that this is fabricated. Unless, of course, you want to fall into the wrong side of your “liars and non-liars alike” dichotomy.

And none of this is relevant to the questions I raised. Do we really want the United States Federal Government – bureaucrats using the authority of politicians – dictating the details of our lives?

As gay people, history suggests that our answer should be a resounding NO!!

And think about it. Would you accept your mother-in-law going through a lunch you packed and vetoing its contents? Would you take that from your neighbor? Hell, in most families there would be, ahem, “domestic discussions” if one spouse declare the other spouse’s lunch to be inadequate.

But for some “agent” of the government with a clipboard and a vacant expression, we make excuses?

tristram
February 16th, 2012 | LINK

Wouldn’t want to let the facts get in the way of a good story!

typical
February 16th, 2012 | LINK

Wow, aren’t you the same guy who told us that Louis Marinelli had changed and is now our ally? How long did that last? Typical!

Mark Thompson
February 16th, 2012 | LINK

“The agent did inspect the lunches of the children, including that of the little girl.”

This is not only a disputed fact, it is a disproven fact. Indeed, if you check the original Carolina Journal piece now, you will see that it has been revised to allege only that “the school” told the girl her lunch was inadequate and that some “person” inspected all the lunch boxes; in the original version of the post these were both references to a “state agent.” Note also that these specific two assertions in the Carolina Journal piece were, and remain, completely unsourced.

In fact, the relevant state agency has now issued a statement that it has “determined that no employee of DHHS, nor the Division of Child Development and Early Education (DCDEE) or its contractors, instructed any child to replace or remove any meal items. Furthermore, it is not DHHS’ policy to inspect, go through or question any child about food items brought from home. The facts we have gathered confirm that no DHHS employee or contractor did this.”

Moreover, the school superintendent has come out and said that the girl was merely told to get in the cafeteria line to get some milk, which she was lacking.

It does not take any kind of inspection in any meaningful sense for a teacher or cafeteria worker to realize that a four year old child is lacking milk. Supervising lunch for four year olds is an inherently hands-on activity, as anyone who’s ever been around a daycare at lunch time should be aware.

But the bottom line is that what this anonymous mother is quoted as alleging and what Carolina Journal and -especially – others claim she is alleging are two very, very different things.

Timothy Kincaid
February 16th, 2012 | LINK

As far as I can tell, as recent at Jan 5th, Louis Marinelli is still our ally. He praised Gov. Gregoire on his blog for going through the same process he went through from opponent to marriage equality supporter.

Timothy Kincaid
February 16th, 2012 | LINK

Mark,

Let me ask you three questions:

1. Is there a material difference between an agent of the DHHS personally going through the lunches or a school employee going through the lunches while they stand there?

If that matters to you then you are not my audience on this subject.

2. Does it matter to you that whether the girl was told to get milk or told to get a new lunch?

If that is the detail that makes this situation acceptable, then you are not to whom I am writing.

3. Which is more important, that the girl ate chicken nuggets because she misunderstood what the government wanted her to do, or that we have turned over the decision making about what our children should eat to the same government who thinks that chicken nuggets are nutritious because they tick the “protein” box?

If you think it is a non-story because the girl misunderstood that the government was only requiring her to drink milk, then we have very different fundamental values.

If, on the other hand, are furious that the Federal Government of the United States of America has decided that a committee in Washington DC has the right to dictate what components must be in our children’s sack lunches then the exact department who’s employee searched the sack lunch of a four year old just doesn’t matter.

And all the blame shifting and excuse making doesn’t cover up the facts.

The bottom line is not the quibbling over which department caused this little girl to eat chicken nuggets and whether it really was only supposed to be milk. The bottom line is that so many seem to think it reasonable that someone, anyone, is authorized to say “your child must drink milk at lunch today” and are perfectly fine that the government is now the lunch police.

typical
February 16th, 2012 | LINK

check out his choice for president

Timothy Kincaid
February 16th, 2012 | LINK

The mindset that finds it reasonable for the US Federal Government to define what is “a nutritious lunch” is the same mindset that finds it reasonable for the US Federal Government to define what is “a valid marriage”.

The only difference is the brand name of the politicians doing the defining.

StraightGrandmother
February 16th, 2012 | LINK

If you have ever been a teacher, raise tour hand.

If you have ever been a school lunch room attendant, raise your hand.

If you have eve been a school nurse, raise your hand.

If you have ever been a school administrator, raise your hand.

Okay how many hands are up? Me neither, but my daughter is a teacher and she monitors home packed lunches her students bring in. She watches and if over a period of time, the parent is packing non nutritious lunches she calls the parents, and in a very non judgmental nice way, she let’s them know. It is part of caring about the child.

As part of a certification process one thing the inspector did was check the lunches. This is no doubt done to teach the teacher, “Hey pay attention to what the kids are bringing to eat.” I don’t see a darned thing wrong with that. It is not like that was the sole purpose of their visit, that they marched in as the “Food Police.” It was just one item in how to run a good Pre-kindergarden program.

It was probably a Head Start Program (tip off is that it is pre-kindergarden as local schools usually do not provide schooling before kindergarten, so this is probably a Federally Funded Head Start program, prolly) that is provided for children who live in poverty. My guess on Head Start. I would like to remind you that children who live in poverty usually have poor nutrition. I think it is great to teach the teacher to watch out for the children’s nutrition.

I can’t take the next step with you Timothy Kincaid and say that insuring children get nutritious meal is government intrusion akin to the intrusion of the government into the private lives of sexual minorities. These are children, and you all are adults. Two different groups of people.

What you are saying is, if we really believe that we want government off of our backs, and the rights for sexual minorities to live their lives as they see fit, then we should take that same approach of “stay out of my life,” when it comes to children sent to our public schools (and probably under a Federally provided program). You want the government OUT of inspecting what children eat for lunch.

Children are vulnerable, not all have parents who pack a good lunch. I take the opposite view, I think it is OUR job to see to that it in our Public Schools kids eat right. I think this one visit by the inspector, was simply to teach the teacher and nothing more, and this is getting blown all out of proportion.

My daughter taught at the worst school in America, that was on the front page of the New York Times as being the worst school in America, and not just one article many. There was a special program that went in to improve the school and my daughter went in as the schools art teacher. Of course there was no money in the budget for art supplies, so between my mother and I, we paid for all the art supplies for that school for the whole year. Every student in this school lived in abject poverty. The bleeding heart principal who had quit her Ivy League professorship in order to create a “good school” quit right after Christmas when she could no longer tolerate the rats in her office.

What I am trying to say is, don’t base your opinions based on your background. Your parents probably sent you to school with good lunches. Know that many many children live in poverty and are hungry. Teachers do more nowadays, because many parents can’t or won’t. I want inspectors to teach teachers to pay attention to what the children are eating. I want that. I want that, because I know a LOT of kids need that from their teacher, as their teacher is many many times the only one who IS paying attention to this.

Get out of the personal lives of Sexual Minorities? Yes!

Get out of teaching teachers to pay attention to their students nutrition? No!

Timothy Kincaid
February 16th, 2012 | LINK

straightgrandmother,

Please don’t be offended or take this personally, but it is extremely presumptuous of you to say that my opinions are based on my background and very offensive to dismiss my views due to how you imagine my upbringing to be.

I leave my personal life off the page here mostly. Unfortunately that has allowed others the option of ignoring the merits of my arguments and instead presuming all sorts of things that “must be the reason” for my views. Invariably, such guesses have been wrong.

(I recall a few years back being informed that my views revealed me to be a blonde with pale Northern European skin.)

You, too, are incorrect in your assessment of what “probably” was my childhood. I don’t have a strong sense of lunches (I vaguely recall that our school’s “milkshakes” were frozen solid and could barely be eaten with a spoon and that the pizzas were tasteless, so perhaps they may have featured heavily in my lunches.) But I do know that for years my ‘breakfast of champions’ was a couple of cookies and a cup of tea.

Timothy Kincaid
February 16th, 2012 | LINK

My other lunch memory is that in grade school I had a Pelé lunchbox.

I didn’t know who Pelé was. I didn’t know what soccer was.

TampaZeke
February 16th, 2012 | LINK

In the words of Ronald Reagan, “There you go again”!

Nobody was more giddy about this extremely isolated and relatively meaningless event than Timothy.

And of course he makes snarky and dismissive comments to those who have the audacity to point out the FACTS of the case that were being completely distorted by the people he wants us to wade through the swamp of lies to find a thread of agreement with.

Most people who write blogs don’t go into the comment section of every post they write to bitch at people who disagree with them.

Timothy Kincaid
February 16th, 2012 | LINK

Good point, Zeke. I should stay out of the comments. I keep telling myself that. Someday I’ll take my advice.

But if you go back and read the commentary, you’ll see that this story was a springboard to a concept, a discussion of ideas.

No one – yet – has done anything other than argue about the details as though the point of the commentary was about milk. I wonder if it is reluctance to find a thread of agreement that is behind that avoidance. It’s amusing – but more annoying because I know that many readers (for example, you) are well up to the challenge of noting that governmental excess is something to be feared. Or eloquently arguing otherwise.

Elections happen and administrations change and irrespective of my compulsive desire to see improvement in the Republican Party, I know that neither of us want people appointed by Rick Santorum (God forbid) or even Mitt Romney involving themselves in the details of how we raise our children.

And okay. I’m out of the comments now.

JB
February 16th, 2012 | LINK

There is much that I appreciate about BTB, not least the fact that I often read commentary here that comes from a different political perspective than my own. There is a lot of groupthink in our community, and I am certainly not immune to it, so it is good for me to be challenged in this regard.

I am quite perturbed, however, at being being told that I should take a certain position on an issue not at all related to gay rights, or else I’m just a mindless, kneejerk liberal. I respect that for many supporters of gay marriage, their position is consistent with a broadly libertarian outlook that favors minimal government intrusion into everyday life. That is not, however, the only way that the question of gay marriage can be framed. I happen to support a very robust government policy of regulation and view my support of gay marriage as entirely consistent with that. While I appreciate the challenge to see the issue from another perspective, I strongly resent the implication that I am intellectually dishonest because my support of gay rights does not grow out of a worldview favoring limited government.

It’s especially disturbing to see Timothy tell a commenter that he is “not my audience on this subject.” If certain posts are only intended for those who share the ideological perspectives of the author of the post, I would appreciate it if that were signaled upfront so I would know which posts to read.

StraightGrandmother
February 16th, 2012 | LINK

Timothy,
Since you write so well and we know that you are or were an accountant, “probably” you came from a better background than the students my daughter taught.

So yes it was a bit presumptive, but seeing as how you turned out (well) and seeing as how most of those children raised in abject ABJECT poverty turn out (not so well) I was making an educated guess, it wasn’t all presumption. I would be so happy Timothy if these children turned out even half as well as you.

Also I made a good stab at attacking your argument about when government intervention in our lives is appropriate and when not. You can’t say nobody took a stab at that.

I like it when you comment Timothy. I don’t think you should be criticized for it. I always enjoy reading your comments Timothy even the few times I don’t agree with them.

StraightGrandmother
February 16th, 2012 | LINK

Timothy = The mindset that finds it reasonable for the US Federal Government to define what is “a nutritious lunch” is the same mindset that finds it reasonable for the US Federal Government to define what is “a valid marriage”.

StraightGrandmother = BIG difference between adults and children. Children who did not have a choice into which home they were born. A Nutritious lunch affects children and affects their ability to concentrate and learn.

Nutrition affects their health. Do we want unhealthy children? If the parents can’t or won’t provide good nutrition for their children are we as a country, prepared to simply write these children off? Tough luck for you kid you crapped out in the parent lottery. You are on your own, to bad you are only in pre-school, thems the breaks.

We are not talking about the government inspecting adult lunches.

Erin
February 16th, 2012 | LINK

Well, it looks like this story was bogus, and I’m really not surprised at all by that. But before I knew it was bogus, it got me thinking about something I have been complaining about for a while. Sometimes there are issues people on the right and the left would actually agree on if they weren’t so hung up on bashing or defending the politicians they perceive as being on their team or the other team. I’m getting really aggravated with Liberals who defend every choice Obama makes no matter what. Look at the individual issues and think “what does this policy do? How much money does it cost? Does the money go to the right people or is it an example of pork so someone with government connections can make an easy buck? What precedent will this set? How will this address the problem?” I was shaking my head when Obama signed a law that had a provision that Americans could be detained indefinitely if the government deemed them enemy combatants. Then Conservatives, who would normally defend such a thing had Bush done it, with the logic “well, terrorists don’t get to have rights,” were quick to point out this horrible, unAmerican, unconstitutional law to Liberals. Then many Liberals were making excuses about how the president promised he wouldn’t use it. Really? You’re just gonna take his word for it? What about the next president? This is just one example that immediately comes to mind.

StraightGrandmother
February 16th, 2012 | LINK

How would we feel if the child came to school with a few saltine crackers in a lunch bag? And that was her lunch.

I think one of the reasons for questioning the “right” of the inspector certifying the pre-school program to look for nutritious lunches is because the child had a pretty good lunch, except for the lack of milk.

Would we still feel it is the parents business, and only their business, if instead of that turkey and cheese sandwich, the child came to school with a few saltine crackers, and only a few saltine crackers? The inspector saw a student, at no doubt a Head Start pre-kindergarden Federally Funded program, have only a few saltine crackers for lunch, and the inspector did nothing about it. It is none of his/her business, lunch is not on the check list. Would we all be okay with that?

Rick Brentlinger
February 16th, 2012 | LINK

Timothy- Thanks for encouraging us to think outside our parochial box. You and BTB are much appreciated.

WMDKitty
February 16th, 2012 | LINK

“a turkey and cheese sandwich, banana, potato chips, and apple juice”

Sounds perfectly healthy to me. You don’t need dairy to be healthy.

Timothy Kincaid
February 17th, 2012 | LINK

JB,

Your correction is on point and deserved. I apologize for implying that other views were less valid and in retrospect was flat wrong in suggesting that those who differ are not my audience.

Timothy Kincaid
February 17th, 2012 | LINK

Straight grandmother

Yes you did address the issue. Thank you. I appreciate that you caught what I was trying to say even if you disagree.

And no I was not raised in abject poverty.

But I still believe that schools should -to the extent possible – be connected to and answerable to parents. I support programs to feed hungry children (surely if there are valid purposes for government, feeding destitute and hungry children is one).

But I do not support federal inspectors in local schools. They answer to no one. If they are there to resolve civil rights violations of the us constitution that’s great. Otherwise they have no role.

In my never-to-be-confused-with-humble opinion.

Sarah
February 17th, 2012 | LINK

Yes, because god forbid the federal government inspect the programs that it funds.

The Republicans want to ban everything gay, but look! The Democrats are just as bad! They want four year olds to drink milk!

Thoughtful Mom
February 17th, 2012 | LINK

What if an outside inspector (“outside” meaning anyone who is not familiar with the particular school) comes in and tells a kid to eat X, not knowing that the kid has a severe food allery to X?

Désirée
February 17th, 2012 | LINK

so some inspector made the girl drink milk? when I was a kid I was allergic to milk. I couldn’t drink it for years. Now, imagine a 4 year old – who wants to drink milk but has been told by her parents she can’t – is in school and an authority figure from school tells her she needs to go get milk from the cafeteria, how likely is she to say “but I’m allergic and not allowed to”? No matter the “good intentions” of such a program, this is an example of government overreach and demonstrates what Timothy was talking about: the tendency of people to rush to support or condemn whatever side is “on their side” without thought for the underlying philosophy being espoused.

Government doesn’t belong here, regulating our lives or the lives of our children. Yes, even the “it’s for the children” argument backfires here as that is what the anti-gay crowd claim is their motivation as well. They are “protecting children” It doesn’t matter that they have no evidence that gay people existing or getting married harms children, simply the idea is enough for them to justify their discrimination against us. The point Timothy was trying to make is to be careful the arguments you support.

StraightGrandmother
February 17th, 2012 | LINK

Food allergies that students have is another responsibility that teacher have. This is just another part of their job. If the child WAS Allergic to milk it is the teachers job to monitor that and s/he would have intervened.

I think we all can agree that the inspector making the visit was NOT there SIMPLY as a food inspector. S/he was there doing an overall certification and teaching the teacher to check for what children bring to school for lunch was simply one part of the inspection and certification process.

Timothy K = But I do not support federal inspectors in local schools. They answer to no one.

StraightGrandmother = Sure they answer to somebody. Everybody has a boss.And if we didn’t have these inspections then corruption in this program would be rappent. It happened in my own city as a matter of fact.

A woman who started out running a home based day care, and then expanded her business, got hooked into the Head Start Program and she milked it for all it was worth, I mean literally, “Milked it” I can’t believe I had forgotten about this when previously commenting. One of the things she did was charge for food and then never provided the food, including milk! She was absolutely crooked and so were her employees. One of the inspectors saw that one of her many sites was seriously out of compliance. He felt there was more, and the woman got busted by, and oyu will love this Timothy, auditors. They came in and audited her purchases and she was not buying any of the food that she was billing the government for and certainly not feeding the children. This was at least 20 25 years ago. I surly do remember being outraged that she charged for milk and then never gave the kids any milk!

Here is a recent one-

“MILWAUKEE – An undercover federal investigation found fraud at Head Start centers across the country – including Wisconsin – with employees suggesting to applicants that they lie about their income to enroll children.

Government Accountability Office officials told Congress that investigators ran 15 undercover operations, with agents posing as heads of families. Fraud occurred at eight centers in five states and the District of Columbia. Two of the eight centers were in Wisconsin, said Gregory Kutz, managing director of the GAO’s forensic audits and special investigations.”

http://www.leadertelegram.com/news/daily_updates/article_372fe4ae-aca9-54b8-9443-df2effbb38c0.html

Kelly
February 17th, 2012 | LINK

I’ve had an experience where a teacher told the kids what they could and could not bring in their lunches from home, and I thought it was completely out of line. My kids were young at the time and, like this child, understood this to be a MANDATE rather than a suggestion (and I thought even the suggestion was over the top). I put cheetos in a lunch, OMG, call CPS!

It’s one thing to mandate what goes into the lunches the school prepares to make sure they are healthy, or even to teach kids what makes a good nutritious meal or snack. It’s another to police what children bring from home for their own consumption. I don’t care how non-judgmental or helpful a teacher sounds/is being, it’s not right to tell parents what they can and cannot feed their children.

liquid
February 17th, 2012 | LINK

I agree with you Tim! Federal Inspectors answer to no one, and have no business being in our schools, because government intrusion and supervision is always bad. You just didn’t extend our argument far enough-element health inspectors need to go, because restaurant safety is a private matter, between the customer and restaurateur. And why should the government get involved if i decide to teach my 5 ear old how healthy cigarettes and drain cleaner is? And if my doctor wants to prescribe arsenic tablets that the drug company promised would help everything, well, that’s private business too.

The problem arguments against government standards is that they are based in the myth personal isolation. Sure, those school lunch standards might rub you as nanny-state interventionalism, but to the kid who’s been bringing a bag of chips to lunch every day for the past month, and who doesn’t get dinner, that sharp eyed teacher suggesting they get a school lunch may just save them. We have health and safety standards for a reason-we,a society, have to work together for /all/ of us. Sure, mistakes can happen. But i’d rather live in a country that tries to catch the people who fall through the cracks than one that throws everyone to the wolves. (if you want to talk about the drastic need for reform of all health, medical, educational and safety standards, that’s a whole different conversation)

liquid
February 17th, 2012 | LINK

wow, that was an autocorrect fail. “element” came from the digital ether

Reed
February 17th, 2012 | LINK

The time wasted on all of this back-and-forth could have been used to get the facts straight on the Indian story (the one with the temple fellatio carving, which might also have been better considered).

Jess
February 17th, 2012 | LINK

Ok, I didn’t get into this conersation for awhile, I usually don’t comment, but I just had to here.

I work at a non-profit childcare. We have a lot of parents send their kids to pre-k (we have a school pre-k teacher on campus) with no breakfast, or a cookie for breakfast. I’ve watched how these kids act throughout the day if that’s their breakfast, and they usually crash really quickly. Mom isn’t there to see, so she might think we blow it out of proportion, or are lying to her. We provide a free breakfast and lunch to all of our kids. I am ALL for watching the kids in my care to make sure they are at least being given the choice of a healthy meal ( I can’t force feed them after all)

That said, we have a child with diabetes, his mom is fully in charge of what he eats, we take his blood sugar levels and send her a picture of the lunch we have, if she approves, that’s what he eats, if not we have alternative meals she has already approved that he can eat. We would NEVER give him something that could cause him to go into diabtic shock or a coma.
When I am a teacher (2 more classes!) yes I will be watching what my kids eat, with their individual needs in mind. If I see a student that habitually is sent with a meal that doesn’t meet those guidelines (their personal health needs) Then yes I will contact parents, they might not be aware, or they might be hostile, but it’s he kid I’m looking out for. If that’s out of line, you come deal with a kid that isn’t getting the proper nutrition, it’s hell. They don’t feel good, they are constantly tired, and it affects how they perform as well.
In the case we are talking about here, I think there was a communication mix-up. I haven’t heard who it was that told the girl she needed milk, but if they didn’t know the childs allergies and other health info then yes they were out of line. But if it was the teacher, and they had been noticing that the child was consistently lacking something then yes they should say something. I’ve read comments that said that the adults should have noticed that she had thrown away her food. In my setting, yes I would notice if one of my kids was heading towards the trash, but in some of the school lunchrooms I’ve been in, you might not see a little child walking to the trashcan. Honestly it sounds like the little girl had a good lunch, but whoever talked to her didn’t understand how to talk to a pre-k child. You know what though, I’m sure the school is already under a lot of fire, and this is honestly not as big of a deal as people are making it out to be.
Sorry this was so long.

Jim Burroway
February 17th, 2012 | LINK

If you really want to avoid the culture war, you could probably do a lot better than getting your news from a monthly newsletter of the John Locke Foundation.

http://ordinary-gentlemen.com/blog/2012/02/15/a-north-carolina-non-troversy/

Via David Frum:
http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/02/17/how-a-box-of-milk-became-a-right-wing-scandal-of-the-day.html

The Carolina Journal may not be CitizenLink, but it’s not exactly a real, you know, newspaper. It’s like getting your news from the Heritage Foundation, MoveOn.org, or Fox News. Sorry, but this non-story is a total fail, and not at all worthy of being taken seriously.

I think the first step of not reacting to the culture war is not to take the bait of the culture war. (Admittedly, I’m struggling with that one myself.)

Muscat
February 17th, 2012 | LINK

Your note of amusement/ annoyance that people weren’t willing to look past an inaccurate description of the case you lead in with in order to grapple with the larger issues you want to bring up doesn’t do you any favors. Sorry, but that’s bullshit. When you want to use a case to argue broader ideas/ principles, and there are problems with the evidence presented, people tend to focus on the problems. It’s called accountability. Choice of evidence and examples matter to making a convincing argument. Bad cases may serve as red herrings, straw men, or bogeymen and they need to be called out (in fact, I think this is something this blog site does a fair amount of…). I may be able to find common ground with conservative commentators like David Brooks now and again, but when he misrepresents a case to make those arguments, that doesn’t mean I’m going to spend my time expounding on the wisdom of his position. All the MORE so if it’s someone I generally agree with.

Timothy Kincaid
February 17th, 2012 | LINK

Jim,

I do get news from Fox, MSNBC, the Advocate and OneNewsNow. If we limit ourselves to those “news” sources that tell us what we want to hear filtered through what we want to believe then we are nothing but pawns in the Culture War.

It doesn’t matter that the original source is biased if the key fact – our children are having their sack lunches inspected to see if the meet the approval of the federal government – is not in dispute. To dismiss an issue solely because it is a concern of the other camp – and therefore automatically not our concern- is the epitome of Culture War engagement.

What I’m trying to do – not particularly successfully but still trying – is to break that thinking so that I am not blinded by My Side Is Right and maybe get closer to the place where I can do what I demand that our enemies do: listen with respect.

I remember why Exodus didn’t pull Schmierer out of Kampala. it was because the messenger – a homosexual activist – was dismissed and the message mistrusted. I want to learn from that situation.

Muscat
February 17th, 2012 | LINK

If by “our children” you mean “children who have been voluntarily enrolled by their parents in a special state program” and by “having their sack lunches inspected” you mean “teachers are paying attention to what their students are eating,” then yes, the facts are not in dispute.

Priya Lynn
February 17th, 2012 | LINK

Timothy said “It doesn’t matter that the original source is biased if the key fact – our children are having their sack lunches inspected to see if the meet the approval of the federal government – is not in dispute”.

That’s if you assume everyone agrees with you on the larger principle and the details are unimportant. However to most people the specifics of the situation are important and you don’t help win people to your viewpoint when you try to stir up outrage with inaccurate hyperbole like this:

“If we stop for a moment, we will all agree that three chicken nuggets are not a healthier choice than a turkey and cheese sandwich, banana, potato chips, and apple juice. Some of us snort at the notion that a government which approves of chicken nuggets – about as close to poison as you can get and still call it food – has any business making any valuations about nutrition.”

One can find exceptions to every generalization so to say the details are irrelevant minutia is inaccurate, its the details which are going to deterimine in which situation a generalization is valid and in which it is not. It is not always true that if its a bad idea for the government to be involved in this part of our lives then its a bad idea for it to be involved in another part of our lives. All this has to be determined on a case by case basis and that’s why the specifics of each case can’t be considered irrelevant.

Timothy Kincaid
February 17th, 2012 | LINK

ya know, looking back on what I actually wrote, I think I did a pretty good job of keeping it accurate and factual.

According to the Carolina Journal, an agent with the Department of Health and Human Services came to West Hoke Elementary School to inspect the lunches of pre-schoolers and make certain that they were eating an approved meal. The school decided that one four year old girl’s lunch – consisting of a turkey and cheese sandwich, banana, potato chips, and apple juice – was not adequately nutritious and so she was informed that Mommy’s lunch was bad and it was replaced with a cafeteria meal.

For lunch that day, the girl ate three chicken nuggets.

The only inaccuracy is that the girl may have inferred (but not been told) that Mommy’s lunch was bad and it appears that the one replacing the meal was the girl herself working off that mistaken impression. And my version was, at the time I wrote it, what all the various news sources (some right wing, some not) were reporting it – other than that I toned down the hype and focused on the bigger picture.

StraightGrandmother
February 17th, 2012 | LINK

Priya, very nice summary!

Jess- Many thanks for breaking out of your lurking and contributing. You are the only one here who provided first hand information and it was very relevant to the discussion, so thanks for that.

Good Luck in your future Jess. FYI my daughter got her first teaching job by using http://www.wanttoteach.com/

As she was finishing up her final semester she decided that she wanted to move to a different part of the country. She grew up in our State and went to an In State School, so when she was about to start her professional career she decided to look out of State. Here is an idea for you.

She first picked out the States she thought she might like to live in. Then I went and researched in each of those States for the best school districts with the highest teacher salaries. I did this research for her while she finished up her final semester. She then took my information and registered with these good school districts.

In the end she got hired, one day after she signed up at Want To Teach.com Well, she didn’t get hired but she got a phone interview one day later, which lead to her being offered a job. Do NOT let them offer you a job that is hourly without benefits, to replace a teacher who, say goes on maternity leave. In other words don’t take their first offer, you can negotiate once they want you.

Best of luck to you Jess, and thank you for looking out for the children, even watching what they eat.

Samiimas
February 17th, 2012 | LINK

“And none of this is relevant to the questions I raised. Do we really want the United States Federal Government – bureaucrats using the authority of politicians – dictating the details of our lives?”

YES.

I want the federal government ‘dicating’ that you can’t fire people for not being straight white and christian.

I want jackbooted government thugs ‘dictating’ that institutions which recieve taxpayer money don’t discriminate against any of those taxpayers.

I want the Federal government ‘dictating’ that private food companies have to have all their products checked for disease by government thug inspectors before being sold.

I want the federal government ‘dictating’ that taxpayer funded schools have to meet basic nutrition guidelines. As someone else pointed out would you be complaining about government thugs stepping on a parent’s rights if a teacher told a child they should get a cafeteria lunch instead of eating a handful of stale crackers their parent packed for them?

“The mindset that finds it reasonable for the US Federal Government to define what is “a nutritious lunch” is the same mindset that finds it reasonable for the US Federal Government to define what is “a valid marriage”.

The only difference is the brand name of the politicians doing the defining.”

The difference is that one serves an actual purpose, ensuring children get atleast some basic nutrition, while banning gay people doesn’t serve any purpose. If you can’t see the difference between basic safety and nutrion regulations and laws banning gay people from having equal rights and priviledges than I have to wonder how you can accuse the rest of us of letting our political leanings blind us.

StraightGrandmother
February 17th, 2012 | LINK

Tim,
I would be willing to look at another case of undue government intrusion into our private lives, our private ADULT lives.

For the sake of discussion let’s take children off the table and not use them in any examples.

What other instances of Government intrusion into our private lives do you find unwarranted? How about the mandated 1.6 Gallon toilet? Is that something that bothers you. The fact that nobody is allowed to sell a toilet what uses more than 1.6 gal of water, is this undue government intrusion into our homes?

How about forcing all the TV stations to broadcast in digital, thus requiring those of us with televisions to make adjustments in our own homes?

How about fluorescent lightbulbs being mandated and that incandescent light bulbs will no longer be sold in a few years? Another unwarrented intrusion into your private life?

I just threw a few out here to seed the discussion, but what are the unwarranted government intrusions into your private life that you object to? Just as you object to the unwarranted government intrusion into whom you can marry, which I totally support you on.

StraightGrandmother
February 17th, 2012 | LINK

Samiimas, hey I think I liked your comment BEST of all :)
I was fist pumping by the time I got to “jackbooted government thugs”

Whoop there it is!

Jess who is about to become a teacher and works in a pre school program, perhaps Jess could say if s/he would notice if with only 4 students in the class and 3 of them had little milk cartons in front of them sitting at their little short table, and one did not, if out of those 4 students, if Jess would have noticed that. Perhaps that is why the inspector noticed that.

As someone else here mentioned, a lot of kids don’t like milk and teachers really do focus on getting the kids to drink their milk, because it is good for them. My own kids, and I have NO IDEA why, never liked milk (I LOVE IT) but in their school, if you didn’t drink ALL of your milk you did not get dismissed for recess with the rest of the kids. You had a 5 minute delay in your noon recess if you did not finish your milk.

Also the teacher started out every lunch period saying you have to eat your sandwich first, and then she watched and made sure the kids were eating their sandwiches first. You hammer this in, in the beginning of the year and soon it is simply routine and the kids just do it. They eat their sandwich before their cheetos and they drink all their milk.

fred5
February 17th, 2012 | LINK

Yep. doesn’t happen at all now does it. Everybody is just misconstruing what happened. Everyone just deny, deny, deny and maybe the controversy will go away.

Second Mother Comes Forward And there is even a letter posted allegedly from the school principal stating that all bag lunches must adhere to the state regulations in order that they might get a better score on their evaluation.

Oh, and here’s the group that is part of the problem.

Let’s just run over the kids with a school bus because we are more concerned about getting a good score on an evaluation than actually doing what is right for the students.

And it’s really classy that in an attempt to mitigate the problem of overreaching do-goodism the school district has now thrown a teacher under the bus. Oddly enough, despite claims to the contrary, it seems as if they are acknowledging that they inspect, however informally, the children’s meals and are prepared to take action if a meal is deemed unacceptable. (The teacher should have gotten the milk for her instead of telling her to get in the cafeteria line.)

Chris McCoy
February 17th, 2012 | LINK

If the minutia of this case are not relevant to the larger issue of Federal Regulation, then the minutia of Exodus’ claims of success in ex-gay therapy are also not relevant to the larger issue of gay rights.

You can’t have your cake and eat it, too.

StraightGrandmother
February 17th, 2012 | LINK

Fred5, hey many thankd for that link. I read the Blaze article and within the Blaze article was a link to the program. As we assumed this is a program for low income children, here from the program itself-

Priority Requirements to Serve Children Who are “At-Risk”
The priority of NC Pre-K is to serve eligible children who are “at-risk”. For the purposes of
determining eligibility priority for the NC Pre-K program, a child is considered “at-risk” if the
child meets one of the criteria below:
• Is from a family whose gross income is at or below 75% of the State Median Income level.
• Has an identified disability as indicated by the child having a current Individualized
Education Program (IEP).
• Has been determined “at-risk” by DCDEE based upon documentation that the child’s
eligibility criteria and other factors constitute a significant and substantial risk that the child
would be unable to avail himself/herself of the opportunity to obtain a sound basic
education.

Also it does state about nutrition here
D. Nutrition-
Sites must provide breakfast and/or snacks and lunch meeting USDA requirements during the regular school day. The partial/full cost of meals may be charged when families do not qualify for free/reduced price meals.

When children bring their own food for meals and snacks to the center, if the food does not meet the specified nutritional requirements, the center must provide additional food necessary to meet those requirements.

END QUOTE

See there it is. The schools must insure that children get nutritious meals. And I am ALL FOR THAT. The inspector was doing his/her job, insuring that the children get proper nourishment in this program for at risk children, predominately children who live in poverty and are at a higher risk of not receiving proper nutrition.

This sounds like a terrific program to me. If some poor kid comes to school with only a few saltine crackers in a brown bag for lunch the teacher is obligated, obligated, to get that child proper nutrition from the school. Good that! This sounds to me like classic serve and protect.

Houndentenor
February 18th, 2012 | LINK

How did we get to the point where good nutrition for children is politicized? This is ridiculous.

By all means, feed your children junk food to show Michelle Obama she can’t tell you what to do. How did our country become so overrun with idiots?

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