To the Editor,
Regarding recent news stories about bills that would provide free lunches for all students in Rhode Island public schools, as a former school district chief operating officer, I …
To the Editor,
Regarding recent news stories about bills that would provide free lunches for all students in Rhode Island public schools, as a former school district chief operating officer, I understand how difficult it is to fund all desirable school programs. However, some programs are basic to school districts' responsibility to provide equal education to all students.
Every school district in Rhode Island provides free busing for all students who live a certain distance from their schools. Ridership does not depend on the income levels of students' parents. Can you imagine if parents with income above a certain level were told their children couldn't ride the bus because the household income was too high?
Every school district provides students with textbooks. Receiving an English literature textbook doesn't depend on how much money a student's parents make. Again, imagine if middle-class parents were told they would have to pay for their children's textbooks.
On and even more basic level, what if the fifty percent of students with above average family income were required to pay tuition to public schools?
All of this begs the question, why should we require some students to pay for school breakfasts and lunches? If tuition, books and transportation are free for all students, why aren't lunches? Surely, nutrition is just as important in the learning process as are tuition, books and transportation.
Barham is the former Chief Operating Officer for the East Providence School Department