Be very concerned when a school Superintendent uses words like “all inclusive” to describe the central goal of his district. It means that at the next parent teacher conference the discussion will probably focus on the quality of the muffins or the type of band-aids used, rather than the results of a reading program. Feel badly for the children and the parents who actually think this is good.
Contrary to Antioch USD Superintendent Donald Gill’s July 23rd guest commentary in the Contra Costa Times about his District, schools providing breakfast, “second chance breakfast” (rewarding tardiness won’t create more tardiness?), lunch and dinner, snacks, health care, etc. to school children is not positive, but is yet another deterioration of our culture and society. It is, ultimately, bad for everyone. There is nothing endearing about parents abdicating their responsibilities to raise their children by turning them over to a school district for twelve hours a day. Why not just build orphanages and give parents visiting rights?
Families have held our culture together since its founding; eating a meal together has always been a core event of parenthood. Whether it’s talking about the events of the day, reinforcing and encouraging good behavior, being good role models, or dispensing discipline, it is an essential event of the day.
In his book “Cooked” food critic and nutritionist, Michael Pollen reflects on the importance of the family meal to our culture. “The shared meal is no small thing,” he says. “It is a foundation of family life, the place where our children learn the art of conversation and acquire the habits of civilization: sharing, listening, taking turns, navigating differences, and arguing without offending.” In other words, sharing a meal with parents is where our children learn the skills necessary to function successfully in a school environment and grow into capable citizens.
Dr. Gill’s announcement also appears to be an abdication of the district’s purpose, to provide the best possible education to kindergarten through high school age children. It is squandering the district personnel’s time and is recognition, to paraphrase W.C. Fields, that “if you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bull”.
The district, like many urban school districts, has racial and discipline issues, lawsuits, morale problems, and a less than stellar educational record. Struggling to educate children within this chaos, Dr. Gill has adopted the strategy of failing school systems in Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles, etc.: distract and placate parents by providing redundant social services, rather than exceptional educational services. Rather than facing the community straight on, his strategy is nothing more than buying the support of a dependent and sometimes hostile segment of the district, while growing another, larger, generation of dysfunctional entitlement children.
The irony of the District’s decision is that it will make the job of educating their children more difficult. As the children feel less and less loved and valued at home their behavior will deteriorate. Ultimately, in the name of political correctness, Dr. Gill and the district is doing themselves and the people of Antioch and East County communities a dis-service.