The Wu-Tang Clan once sagely proclaimed that cash rules everything around us. While that may be an overly simplified look at our economy, it has apparently made its way into the curriculum of several elementary schools around the country, which are doing their very best to teach children that there is only one thing that matters in their little kid lives ...
#4. A Middle School Where Field Trips Are for the 20 Percent Who Can Afford Them
Middle school field trips are part of that brief, opportunistic window of adolescence where two people can get caught making out at a planetarium and not end up on any government lists for it. With that in mind, one can only imagine the looks of despair in the eyes of the students at West Middle School in Fulton County, Georgia, when 80 percent of them were excluded from attending any more field trips because their parents couldn't afford to pay the costs.
Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images
"We figured being the 80 percent now would prep them for being the 99 percent later."
The school, apparently hard up for cash, decided to quietly remove the option on permission slips that allowed for low-income households to send their kids on the field trips without paying the fee. This would be in a district, by the way, where virtually all of the households are low income (90 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced lunches). So it created the ridiculous situation where every once in a while the richest 25 kids would be whisked away on some magical adventure while the poors stayed behind and sat quietly in shame. Hey, we're not saying they're being taught an inaccurate view of the world; it's just sort of harsh, that's all.
#3. A Low-Income School Forced Parents to Pay for Graduation Tuxedos
"Terrible Priorities" was presumably the theme of the fifth grade graduation ceremony being held at an elementary school in Queens that required every student to wear a tuxedo or a white dress in order to attend, because we all remember what a black-tie affair that trip to Chuck E. Cheese's was. Any children not wearing the requisite fancy duds will not be allowed to graduate.
"Remember, tying a bow tie counts for half of your grade. Any clip-ons will be expelled."
Despite suffering significant damage from Hurricane Sandy and having to resort to giving students photocopied textbooks instead of buying more, the school was luckily able to save some money by gallantly charging the students' parents for their graduation suits of finery. But surely price is no object when we're talking about a Xeroxed certificate with your child's name hastily scribbled in.
#2. An Elementary School Charges Fake Money for the Bathroom
Cascades Elementary School in Lebanon, Oregon, recently began charging their students "fun money" for using the bathroom outside of scheduled potty breaks, which is something that the evil old folks' home in Happy Gilmore would do. The students' "Super Pro" bucks (not redeemable for actual currency) could be used to either a) buy fun trinkets at the school store, or b) not saturate their OshKoshes with shuddering, embarrassed streams of urine.
Honestly, this whole story mirrors a lot of Adam Sandler's filmography.
That's not an exaggeration -- the kids totally did piss their pants. To a bunch of 8-year-olds, the decision between toys and dignity is like Sophie's Choice. But that's all a minor sacrifice when teaching the lesson that, in this world, wealth accumulation depends largely on bladder control.
#1. Schools Are Turning Lunch into Actual Class Warfare
We had assumed there was some section in the Department of Education rulebook that requires schools to keep their lunchrooms at a standard at least slightly above that of a Dickensian orphanage, but thanks to Uintah Elementary in Salt Lake City, we are no longer certain. You see, students there have prepaid lunch accounts, many of which were overdrawn because their parents either couldn't refill them or hadn't bothered. So when those students brought their lunches up to the cashier, the food was taken away from them and thrown into the garbage, because that is apparently a thing you are supposed to do to children. We suppose the school could've let those possibly impoverished students keep the food instead of wasting it before their confused eyes, but then they wouldn't learn anything.
"They used to laugh when I ate my boogers. Now look who's ahead of the game!"
Amazingly, that's actually a slightly gentler lesson than what a school in Colorado taught when it decided to stamp the hands of every student that either needed lunch assistance or had no money to pay for food in their accounts, marking them for their classmates. See, that's the real problem with poor kids -- we just weren't ostracizing them enough.