Food For Belly and Food For Thought

Jul 9, 2019 by

First the body:

The summer meals program that began last week in over a thousand public schools and other sites citywide offers free breakfast and lunch to anyone under 18.  No questions are asked and no identification is required. 

That’s as it should be and it’s a fine service.

But for the decades of its existence it’s been inefficient and wasteful and the DOE’s Office of School Nutrition and Services is better at coasting than correcting.

Chalkbeat, the online education site, last week posted an investigative report about the low utilization, which is being attributed to a lack of advertising.

Another problem associated with this splendid  but dysfunctional  program, is that huge amounts of unspoiled food are being trashed because of petty rules that cannot be blamed on Board of Health regulations. 

For instance, fresh unopened milk must be thrown away. It cannot be given away to another child who drank his own but who might be extra thirsty. 

And children are forced to take a tray consisting of a specific number of items.  So if they want only milk, they must accept the whole tray and immediately dump its entire contents, minus the juice or whatever.

This happens many thousands of times each day during every July and August.

Now the mind:

At a time when attention is being drawn to a scarcity of school librarians, many immortal literary masterpieces are being heaved onto dumpsters.

This is not because their pages are yellowed or dog-eared, surplus, out-of-date or damaged, needed to be “weeded out” or that devices of technology have replace books.

It is not, as claimed by an education bureaucrat in Chicago, that they convey “false information” or inspiration that is not palatable or suited to the new enlightenment. ( This is currently happening mostly in Chicago, but New York has been treating classic books as contraband for years, though not so much recently).

It’s perhaps for reasons more sinister.

It’s not quite true that the legacy of much of the global canon of literary genius is being repudiated to the point of liquidation if they don’t pass ideological litmus tests.  But the present syllabus, to the extent that any exists or is followed, is a compendium of sources that function as a semi-political manifesto.

Even the classics are being subjected to censorship.

People still  read Shakespeare, but authors like Carlyle, Ruskin, Spenser, Donne, Dryden and Pope are at the threshold of obliteration from memory.

The absence of genuine “academic rigor”  is burning a hole through our students’ souls, though naturally there are many exceptions ( and souls can be resilient)

There’s a terrible and terrifying lack of transference of actual knowledge taking place. Current curricula are empty shells and assure poor critical thinking skills. Even brilliant kids exemplify that sad fact.

Books should not be thrown out as though they were medications beyond their expiration date. Neither should ideas.  Nor the pages of the masterminds who gave life and wisdom to the world.

Ron Isaac

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