A bill in the House proposes changing or rolling back protections and rights parents now take for granted in their kids’ education. Learn more about it here.
I cannot pretend that I didn’t see this coming when the ill-equipped Betsy DeVos ascended her educational throne. It was only a matter of time before House Bill 610 came down the pipes, wreaking havoc on the American Education System. And yes, that is exactly what it will do for many people. For those of you who are not familiar with this gem of a bill, let me introduce you to more stupid.
House Bill 610 was introduced by Republican Representative Steve King of Iowa, and aims to reshape the American Education System in very dramatic ways, including, but not limited to, creating federally backed vouchers for American students to use for homeschooling or private schooling purposes. Vouchers aside, the Bill also aims to dismantle nutritional standards for national school lunches and breakfasts. If you don’t think that is a big deal, you might ask some of the nearly 50% of American students and their parents who rely on free and reduced public school meals how they feel about this.
This bill will do away with The No Hungry Kids Rule, which establishes certain regulations for national school meal programs. Proponents of the bill claim that the current nutritional standards are restricting American children from getting the calories that they need; in short, forcing kids to diet during school hours. Ummmm…. no. The current set of regulations in no way limits caloric intake of healthy foods. In fact, it ensures that many children get the necessary nutrients at school, and for millions of kids, school is the only place they see broccoli, milk, and oranges. If you pack your little guy a sack lunch filled with organic goodness, then that is super. Bravo! If you’re a single parent struggling to raise your kids and keep any food on the table, then you are about screwed if this bill sails through. No longer will you be able to ensure that whole grains, fruits, veggies, and dairy will make it to your little one’s plate between the hours of 8 to 5. No big deal, I guess. Small potatoes, I suppose, considering that only 32 MILLION American children participate in school meals. Yes, I am being snarky here because I firmly believe that providing children with education and nutrients are important as all hell. Does this affect me directly? No. My kids fall well out of the free and reduced range, but since when did we stop caring for the greater good of the American people, the American future? Whitney Houston is rolling over in her grave right now. I know you believed the children are the future Whitney. The problem is not everyone else does.
So my girls are fortunate. They eat like queens. They have also been blessed with above average intelligence quotients, and not a trace of any sort of disability. So again, this bill is not impacting my family directly. Not everyone is as fortunate as we are. Millions of American families rely on special education services and laws to assist and protect their children in their educational journey. I might not be a mother of one of these learners, but I know a hell of a lot about these children, having spent nearly a decade teaching in a special education classroom. This bill is no friend to students and parents who rely on special education services in the public schools.
Here is the skinny: The Bill aims to repeal the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, also known as ESEA, also known as No Child Left Behind and Every Child Succeeds Act. New names are given and a few tweaks are made to the original act every few years, but the basic framework is still there, and for good reason. ESEA does a number of things including properly including distributing federal funds to schools, setting curriculum standards, and protecting students from discrimination. All of those things are pretty important, right?
Apparently not. If you remove ESEA and USDA guidelines, then there is little if any regulation left within the public schools. If you are a parent of a special needs child, you may be sending your unique learner to a “classroom” where there is no mandated assurance of their needs being met nor protection of learners rights under an individualized education plan. You are now at the mercy of “the system” and they can take you or turn you out just like that. If you have a child with extreme behaviors, you should be wetting yourself. If you are a special needs parent, you know that IDEA (Individuals With Disabilities Act) and FAPE (Free and Public Education) are the cornerstones to ensuring that your child is guaranteed a free and appropriate education. House Bill 610 makes no mention of either.
Are you scared now?
You should be.