The Instigator
Beverlee
Con (against)
Winning
1 Points
The Contender
Push
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points

Should Schools Punish Parents by Throwing out Student Lunches?

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 1 vote the winner is...
Beverlee
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/8/2013 Category: Society
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,259 times Debate No: 37514
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (9)
Votes (1)

 

Beverlee

Con

http://foxnewsinsider.com...

A New Jersey school is beginning a policy of throwing away the lunches of students whose lunch accounts lack the money to pay.

As the linked article states: "According to the superintendent, the new policy is in place to hold parents accountable. Last year, the district was billed $50,000 because parents abused its free and reduced meal program."

I think that the policy is harmful and wasteful, since other options exist for school districts to control spending, and the student being punished is not the party at fault. So, we need to debate this.

I am going to argue that this policy is harmful and wasteful, and alienates the student body and parents. Whoever accepts this debate should prove me wrong. I am not going to try and defend the idea that this tactic will save the school money, since I think it probably will. I am only saying that other options are likely to exist that would not be as harmful, wasteful or alienating, that would also work.

Please only accept in the first round, since this will leave us with the same number of rounds to argue.
Push

Pro

Let me start by saying that no child, regardless of monetary inadequacies, should go hungry or face the embarrassment that this policy entails.

But who exactly holds the responsibility of seeing that this does not happen? The school? The district? Or the parents? After all, a school is first and foremost an institution for learning. Not to mention that this policy is aimed at those NOT on the free and reduced lunch list. Students who should, theoretically, be able to afford the meals.

It is too easy to forget that schools have budgets - with each only receiving a small share of the district's resources. Resources which are put forth towards salaries, security, technologies, books and of course, the lunch programs. How then can we expect them [schools] to also absorb the cost of these unpaid lunches? 50,000$ dollars worth at that. It's abuse of the system. Which is most likely why this policy was created in the first place.

My opponent thinks this is a "tactic to save money", which is illogical. Whether eaten or thrown away the results still equal less money in the school's pocket; except one option serves a deterrent- however ill-conceived it may be. It's sad when children go hungry, even for a few hours, but it's even sadder when a learning institution falters and many more go uneducated, especially when less than 10$ dollars a week could have avoided it.
Debate Round No. 1
Beverlee

Con

Thanks Pro, for accepting my instigation!

First, let's get a few reference materials on the table.

Here is the website for the New Jersey school district that has implemented the policy:http://www.willingboroschools.org...

You can read the actual memo sent home to parents that explains this policy by going to the "Humanitarian Meals" link on the right hand side of the screen.

The school district makes it clear that this is a measure to "hold parents" accountable. But, since it punishes students, not parents, it does not accomplish this goal. Should a traffic officer issue a citation to a careless driver - or to the elementary age children of that driver?

My argument is that this policy is wasteful (obviously, since the cafeteria workers are specifically told to throw the food away - after the school has already paid for it and prepared it - instead of giving it to another student.) It also harms the relationship between parents and educators.

I want to preface my argument with a reminder about an "either/or" fallacy. (This happens when a choice is framed as being better than 'doing nothing,' if doing nothing is not a realistic option.) The school district does not have to take this particular step. They have other choices that they could make.

Premise 1: This measure creates an emotional wall of separation between parents and teachers. For evidence of this, I point to the overwhelmingly negative reaction in press reports online. [2] There is no evidence that this policy has made parents more fond of the school district.
  1. The memo to parents that I linked to above is notable for it's curt, adversarial tone. This helps to support the contention that the school district is further straining relations with parents with this policy.

The following is an excerpt from the memo:
"If a student goes through the food service line and it is discovered that the student does not have the required funds for a meal, the Chartwells Food Service representative has been instructed by the Willingboro Board of Education to withhold the meal from the student, with the understanding that such meal cannot be re-served and must be discarded."


Premise 2: The School has other options. Schools regularly go to court to recoup money lost to truancy, vandalism and lost or stolen text books. There is no reason that Willingboro ISD could not simply take these parents to court if they feel they have been wronged somehow. If the parent cannot afford the school lunches, then the school should ensure that the parent is aware of financial aid services that may be available. Remember: Schools collect federal money for the School Lunch Program - that money does not come out of the annual school budget. [1]
  1. If it is argued that the parents are significantly at fault, then the proper response is to seek redress against the parents, not the child
  2. If the parents cannot pay, the schools should ensure that the family does not qualify for reduced price lunches, and understands how to collect these benefits. Moving poor families onto the school lunch program does not cost individual schools anything, since the school lunch program is funded at the federal level.
  3. If the school suspects that the parent can afford the lunch, but refuses to provide the funds for it, then the school is required by law to report this to law enforcement as potential child abuse
  4. According to district employees familiar with the finances of Willingboro's school lunch programs, mismanagement may play a greater role in the budget deficit that was sited. [2] The school should resolve these incompetencies
Premise 3: Most delinquent accounts are caused by accidental oversight, or school incompetence, not abuse.
This means that the vast majority of parents correct the problem as soon as it is discovered. The following quote was provided by a parent of a student at Willingboro schools. It paints a more reasonable picture of why a student's account may run out.

"For the entire time my child has been in school, for 5 years now, there has been no consistent written instructions or policy regarding any established district method of checking the balance on lunch accounts. In fact, I would guess each school in the district has a different procedure in place.

In Pre-K, we occasionally got printed statements, but every grade after that, no written notice was sent home. If you were able to go in during breakfast time to speak to the cafeteria personnel, they could give you the balance then, but many people work and can't do that. Additionally, at various times adults were told they were not allowed in the cafeteria in the morning unless they were accompanying a Pre-K student, so getting inside at all was questionable, at least at my school specifically." [2]


Conclusion: There is no reason that throwing away the school lunches is the best policy that the school could find to address the problem of lunch accounts running out. Educating parents on available financial assistance, better money management by the school district, and court action directed at the few parents who are actually negligent are all perfectly good options. Moreover, the school is angering parents and humiliating students, which degrades the learning environment. The school should not act like a butt.




Rebuttals:

Let me start by saying that no child, regardless of monetary inadequacies, should go hungry or face the embarrassment that this policy entails


-
Great! You actually said it in fewer words than I did, it took me nearly this whole round so far to say the exact same thing... so groovy.


Who exactly holds the responsibility of seeing that this does not happen? The school? The district? Or the parents?

-The School and the parents share this responsibility. While at school, the district has a legal responsibility to care for the welfare of the children on campus. Parents are often not even present while the kids are at school.

This policy is aimed at those NOT on the free and reduced lunch list. Students who should, theoretically, be able to afford the meals.

-Students are often under legal working age, and so cannot afford their own lunches. These must be bought for them by a parent or guardian. There is nothing in the policy that states that this rule will only apply to those who can afford the meals.



[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...

[2] http://fattyfightsback.blogspot.com...
Push

Pro

"Please be advised that effective September 5, 2013 there will be a new procedure in place regarding lunch services to students who are unable to pay the required funds. The only exception to this procedure will be for students who have been determined through their validated eligibility status to receive free meal(s)." -Excerpt from Willingboro letter regarding humanitarian meals


"The new lunch program states that if kids, not on the Free and Reduced Lunch program, don't have money to pay for
their school lunch, they will go hungry for the day. This is the newest policy for the Willingboro, New Jersey school district." -Excerpt from Fox news article on Willingboro's new lunch policy
http://foxnewsinsider.com...


This policy is not as rogue and indiscriminate as my opponent has let on. In fact, it says quite clearly whom this procedure is geared towards. I applaud my opponent's zealous defense of these children, but we cannot instantly vilify adversaries of what we consider good or innocent. No. For things are not always "black" or "white"- as is the case now.

It would be too easy to put this [delinquent lunches] on the school's shoulders - they care for children for an extended period of time each day and it is only right that they provide meals for all students, right? Wrong. Nutrition is perhaps one of the most important factors in childhood development and much in the same way schools leave punishment of delinquents ultimately up to the parents, feeding falls under parental care. After all, no school has ever been charged with neglect for not feeding it's pupils.

I'd now like to address the premises my opponent has illustrated.


Premise 1:
"This measure creates an emotional wall of separation between parents and teachers"

Well, so does just about anything. Human culture varies so greatly that even policies with good intentions rub some the wrong way.

http://www.foxnews.com...

I'm sure you'll notice a few "curt" tones in the link provided, too.


Premise 2: The School has other options.

I find the options outlined in this premise to be a direct contradiction of the previous one, not to mention a more harmful alternative. How can suing a parent be less alienating and wasteful than throwing away a lunch?


Premise 3: Most delinquent accounts are caused by accidental oversight, or school incompetence, not abuse.

Is it not the responsibility of the parents to use foresight when it comes to their children eating? Will your utility company waive charges if you do not receive a bill? No. There is a mutual expectation of payment whether a written citation has been received or not. Furthermore, I find the quotes provided by my opponent to be non-essential in the sense that the balance can easily be tracked by the parents themselves using simple math.
Balance = B - (D*C)
"B" represents the "balance" or last amount funded
"D" represents the "days" elapsed since last funding
"C" represents the "cost" of a single lunch

Considering the challenges that parents face when rearing a child, simple arithmetic should be a welcome reprieve.


Conclusion: I have not found one argument set forth by my opponent that proves her thesis, conversely, I have given more than enough factual evidence to disprove this policy as being "harmful and wasteful" compared to other options as illustrated by my opponent [premise 2]. In closing, I would like to say that I hope that not a single lunch is thrown away, not because the policy is abolished, but because it pressures the parents into a higher state of vigilance.
Debate Round No. 2
Beverlee

Con

I want to thank PRO for such a quick response!

I will defend the individual premises of my argument, and make any needed modifications.


Premise 1: "This measure creates an emotional wall of separation between parents and teachers"
"Well, so does just about anything..."

-Yay! This argument was conceded!

Premise 2: The School has other options.
"How can suing a parent be less alienating and wasteful than throwing away a lunch?"

-Because only the delinquent parents would be impacted, and thanks to the courts, only the parents who were actually guilty of having delinquent accounts would be punished. Accidental oversights would be corrected without court action, obviously. But, lawsuits are not the only possible other thing that schools can do.

Other potential options include:

A) If it is argued that the parents are significantly at fault, then the proper response is to seek redress against the parents, not the child

B) If the parents cannot pay, the schools should ensure that the family does not qualify for reduced price lunches, and understands how to collect these benefits. Moving poor families onto the school lunch program does not cost individual schools anything, since the school lunch program is funded at the federal level.

C) If the school suspects that the parent can afford the lunch, but refuses to provide the funds for it, then the school is required by law to report this to law enforcement as potential child abuse

D) According to district employees familiar with the finances of Willingboro's school lunch programs, mismanagement may play a greater role in the budget deficit than delinquent accounts. The school should resolve these incompetencies



Premise 3: Most delinquent accounts are caused by accidental oversight, or school incompetence, not abuse.

"Is it not the responsibility of the parents to use foresight when it comes to their children eating? Will your utility company waive charges if you do not receive a bill? No."

-False analogy. There is no law that states that you must purchase electricity from a power company. You can live in a cabin in the woods if you want to. Parents, on the other hand must enroll their children in specific schools or face legal consequences.


Besides, I agree that the parents are supposed to feed their children.

Remember, that I am not defending the act of not paying for lunches. I am arguing that this particular school policy is not necessary, and it is harmful. Thousands of schools in America do not have such a policy, and they seem to be able to stay afloat just fine.

"There is a mutual expectation of payment whether a written citation has been received or not."

-The parents that I have quoted do not feel that they were able to check on the balances that were available for their children for a variety of reasons. It could be the case that these parents are stupid, or that they hate their children, or that they want to rip off the school district. So what? If that is the case, shouldn't THEY be the ones that are held accountable? Why punish their children? If the parents owe money that they are not paying, then take them to court.


IMPORTANT POINT: These parents are not paying for a 'service.' They are not 'customers' of some utility company that is providing a service that is optional. They are required, by law, to send their kids to school. In this sense school lunch fees can be seen as a kind of "tax," that must be paid unless the parent provides alternative meals. If these parents can't pay, won't pay, or are otherwise abusive to these children... it is STILL incumbent upon the school to care for them while they are on campus.

" I have given more than enough factual evidence to disprove this policy as being "harmful and wasteful" compared to other options as illustrated by my opponent [premise 2]."

Not really.... remember one of my other options was for the school to be less wasteful with taxpayer money. I'd think that being less wasteful with bookkeeping would be sort of ... not as wasteful as throwing away food.


Conclusion:

So far, PRO has conceded that this policy is harmful:


"... no child, regardless of monetary inadequacies, should go hungry or face the embarrassment that this policy entails." (R1)


That this policy is alienating for parents and students:


"...Well, ... just about anything {can be alienating}. Human culture varies so greatly that even policies with good intentions rub some the wrong way. (R2)


And that this policy is uneccesary, because other options to recoup the lost money exist (although PRO only mentioned one of the many other options - legal action. I am sure that PRO will accept that the other options also exist.)


These concessions accept nearly every premise in my argument, and should be seen as conclusive.

However, the remaining point of irresolution is: Do the parents have the primary responsibility to feed their children? My answer is absolutely yes. But, if that responsibility is not met, then there are no good reasons for a school district to ALSO neglect or abuse the child. I do not like analogies, because they are so difficult for me to pull off. However, I think that a babysitter can be said to have a similar responsibility to care for a child under her care. If this babysitter refused to feed the kid she was watching, then I would say that she has failed in that responsibility, even if someone else also failed in the same responsibility.

Push

Pro

"These concessions accept nearly every premise in my argument, and should be seen as conclusive."

This is false, and I will outline as much in my opening.


"... no child, regardless of monetary inadequacies, should go hungry or face the embarrassment that this policy entails." (R1)

The only concession outlined in this quote is a moral one. For the policy is being used as a weapon to pressure parents into seeing that their children's lunch is paid for at all times. So if the hypothetical trigger is pulled it would be in self defense. Defense against outright thievery. You asked "why punish the children?" and to that I say they too are are an instrument in this situation, an instrument activated by the carelessness and neglect of their parents.


"...Well, ... just about anything {can be alienating}. Human culture varies so greatly that even policies with good intentions rub some the wrong way. (R2)


If anything, this speaks on the nit-picking nature of people. You can not please everyone and will inevitably "alienate" a few. So to list that as a cause for disapproval of the policy is absurd [cite premise 2 RD 2]. Furthermore, to call this a "concession" is unfounded, at least, it demonstrates the normalcy of alienation.


Moving on, I'd like to argue that my opponent does not know how this policy will be instituted.

"If the parents cannot pay, the schools should ensure that the family does not qualify for reduced price lunches, and understands how to collect these benefits. Moving poor families onto the school lunch program does not cost individual schools anything, since the school lunch program funded at the federal level."

What if this policy acts as a warning system for those who should receive free and reduced lunches? With a predetermined amount of "disposed lunches" triggering a meeting with the parents. After all, not all parents are forthright with an inability to fund their children's meals, so this "wasteful" policy could expand the lunch program past it's previous number and even reach those who had previously not been covered. That weapon analogy from my introduction fits this situation so perfectly because it's all about how it is used.


"False analogy. There is no law that states that you must purchase electricity from a power company. You can live in a cabin in the woods if you want to. Parents, on the other hand must enroll their children in specific schools or face legal consequences."

I am 20 years old, I am free to live anywhere and forgo utilities as I see fit. Children on the other hand are required to have running hot running water and waste disposal. The analogy stands.


Conclusion: We cannot know how this policy will be used. However, what we do know is that prior to it's inception 50,000$ dollars were charged to the district as a result of abuse. These parents didn't take advantage of the lunch program, they chose to strike, whether purposely or not, the very institution that teaches their children. So is it any surprise that this policy seeks to answer what they have provoked? I think not.
Debate Round No. 3
Beverlee

Con

Ok, thank you PRO for the debate! (For the record, I have contacted the Willingboro School District, and asked them to show me documentation - a legal requirement for them to keep and make public - that proves that parents caused the $50,000 shortfall, and to ask why they have not implemented other cost-saving measures. I was professional, and non-confrontational. The lady on the phone referred me to a "Media" line, and I have not got a call back yet. I also have not had my emails returned. The records are available online, but they do not support the districts public statements, which is why I had to ask.)


We may need to retire a few of my premises, to clear some clutter. These have all been conceded.

HARMFUL
I have argued that the policy is harmful, since it alienates parents and students unnecessarily, makes students go hungry, and punishes the wrong people. All of these things undermine the trust and confidence that parents and students need to have in their schools in order for education programs to be successful.


I feel that this argument has been successful, since it has been conceded to by PRO. Essentially, PRO agrees that it is harmful and immoral (even calling it a "weapon"), but says that the children deserve this treatment, since they have parents that are thieves.


So, PRO concedes that it causes harm. The only disagreement is an off-topic debate about whether or not children with negligent parents deserve to be harmed by their schools as well as their parents.


WASTEFUL
My premise that this program is wasteful was never contested, and so has been "dropped" from the discussion by PRO. (Yay!)


ALIENATING
It's not just a question of "trying to make everyone happy." Schools need to earn the respect, trust and cooperation of parents and students if they are going to provide a successful educational environment. When a policy like this one is allowed to undermine that good standing, an overall degradation of the educational mission of the district is a likely outcome.


The premise of alienation becomes important if other, potentially less painful options exist for the school district. The parents can be expected to ask why these other policies were not implemented first.


OTHER OPTIONS

PRO also concedes that other policies could be implemented by Willingboro's Schools. He has dropped the assertion that many of these alternatives are less painful, alienating and wasteful than the policy of trying to punish parents by humiliating students and make them go hungry.

For example, has the school stepped up its efforts to educate parents about potential financial assistance? Not according to parents (as I showed in R2). The school could, and should take this step. Has the school identified the few parents that are willfully refusing to pay for school lunches and held conferences with them? This step should be taken, and follow-up court action sought if warranted. Has the school district taken steps to ensure that its budget is being well managed? Not according to teachers in the district, and so this step should be taken.


The fact is, that Willingboro School District has never shown that the budgetary shortfall (that they say has caused this policy change) was even caused by delinquent lunch accounts in the first place. [1] Their financial records are a matter of public record, and detail how the district spends its money. They can be viewed in the sources below. [1] These legal documents directly contradict the public statements by the school that parents caused these shortfalls, and not the school itself.


Nowhere in these legally-required documents does the Willingboro school district explain how they arrived at the $50,000 budget shortfall that they are blaming on delinquent lunch accounts. In fact, Willingboro school district is famously mismanaged, with chronic budgetary problems. [2] Anger towards this school district has caused voters to deny the school extra funding, and may lead to a class action lawsuit against the school. [3] It is likely that policies such as this one have done much to cause this high level of public anger.



REMAINING ISSUES


With all of my main premises conceded to, there is not currently much for me to defend. However, a few recurring themes are being made by PRO, that I have time to discuss - although these are NOT part of the debate. I will handle them as rebuttals.


What if this policy acts as a warning system for those who should receive free and reduced lunches?

-I think it will have that effect. But, I said at the outset that I did not want to debate whether or not the program was likely to be effective in saving money, or changing behavior. I wanted to keep the focus sharp, and prevent rhetorical sprawl.

(It is not a false analogy to say that schools are not very similar to utility providers, because) I am 20 years old, I am free to live anywhere and forgo utilities as I see fit. Children on the other hand are required to have running hot running water and waste disposal. The analogy stands.


-
This is not true. It is perfectly legal to take your kids on a camping trip, for example, that does not have running hot water and waste disposal. Amish and other communities also provide for their children without these amenities. However, it IS illegal to go camping instead of sending them to school (truancy.) The analogy between customers of a utility company and compulsory education is false. Parents are not purchasing a 'service,' because school attendance is mandatory.


These parents didn't take advantage of the lunch program, they chose to strike, whether purposely or not, the very institution that teaches their children. So is it any surprise that this policy seeks to answer what they have provoked? I think not.

-This argument makes a lot of unsupported assertions that do not need to be rebutted. There is no evidence that the parents chose to "strike," there is no evidence that delinquent accounts cost the district $50,000, and there is no justification for harming the children of these parents even if these things were true.


CONCLUSION
All across America, thousands of schools somehow manage to exist and stay financially afloat even without throwing away perfectly good student lunches, humiliating children, and angering parents with policies such as this one. Willingboro schools should look into how the thousands of other schools pull this off, and think about learning some lessons.


The bottom line is that Willingboro is a gruesomely mismanaged school district, with chronic budget problems that cannot possibly be blamed on parents not paying their children's lunch accounts on time. They have plenty of other policy changes that they could make, but choose to implement the ones that seem to anger the voters and parents the most.

As for this debate, PRO has agreed with me on almost everything, he only has different ideas as to the motives of this policy. These are not part of the debate, though.

[1] http://www.willingboroschools.org...

[2] http://articles.philly.com...

[3] http://www.myfoxny.com...
Push

Pro

Push forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
9 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 9 records.
Posted by Adam2 4 years ago
Adam2
Regardless it wouldn't bother me. lol
School lunch sucks
Posted by Beverlee 4 years ago
Beverlee
Well, I'm screwing up my Spelling and Grammar, but thanks!
Because of a glitch...
Posted by Push 4 years ago
Push
Thank you for making first debate stimulating thus far. Very entertaining!
Posted by Beverlee 4 years ago
Beverlee
Hey when I posted the argument, my premises were separated alpha numerically, with Premise 1 broken down into a,b, and so forth.

Now, when I re-read it, all the lowercase letters are gone, and its just block text. To make matters worse, there isn't any punctuation because I was listing the ideas like that. (You aren't supposed to use punctuation there.)

That shouldn't count for Spelling and grammar because it was a glitch, right? Or do I just have to cope?
Posted by Beverlee 4 years ago
Beverlee
It's ok, I just rolled with it!
Posted by Push 4 years ago
Push
I just read that last sentence. lol Ooops. Just respond normally and I'll "accept" in the following post for equality's sake.
Posted by Mikal 4 years ago
Mikal
I thought it was a troll debate, then I watched the video. That is insane
Posted by Mikal 4 years ago
Mikal
I thought it was a troll debate, then I watched the video. That is insane
Posted by Sitara 4 years ago
Sitara
no. That is horrible.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by wrichcirw 4 years ago
wrichcirw
BeverleePushTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:--Vote Checkmark3 points
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Total points awarded:10 
Reasons for voting decision: whoa buddy...tl;dr for a debate about school lunches. =) ff by PRO