There IS such a thing as a free lunch. 

photo credit: bookgrl lunchtime! via photopin (license)

Betsy DeVos spoke this week at CPAC, and told the crowd that she was the first one to tell Bernie Sanders to his face that there is no such thing as a free lunch. 

Well, Betsy, I’m here to tell you that there ARE free lunches, and they are so much more than that. 

Many kids come to school to eat; that is the only time they get fed. I know this firsthand, because I’ve taught these kids. I’ve been the teacher who keeps crackers in her desk to send home with kids that aren’t going to have any other food until the next morning. Our “free lunches” at public schools fill a critical gap; feeding impoverished children. When those kids get older, thanks to their free educations, many of them will apply to and attend public institutions of higher education. Many will receive grants, and if Bernie’s plans had come to fruition, they and many others would have received free tuition. 

I hear your Republican brain screaming now, about how that really isn’t free. You’re right; free lunches and free tuition are free to the recipient, but not to those who pay the bill. But here’s where you need to reframe your thinking to align with evidence.

Paying for school lunches, grants, and tuition is not just paying a bill. It’s making an investment. It’s saying that you believe that a well educated population is good for society. It’s saying that feeding poor children who can then grow up to become productive members of society is a good investment for all of us. Even if you live in a mansion in a gated neighborhood on the rich side of town, you benefit from poor kids being fed and educated. You benefit from EVERYONE being able to receive a high quality public education.

Because when people are fed and educated, they can grow up and get jobs. They can make discoveries. They can start businesses. They can spend their hard earned money in a strong economy.

Young people are seeds. They have incredible potential for growth, but they need the right light, enough water, and good soil. We have the ability as a nation to provide those things to all young people, and to reap the rewards of that investment. 

But that would involve a few things that Republicans are not in favor of:

– Recognizing that we have a social responsibility to care for the less fortunate and to dismantle systems of oppression and inequality that have pushed people down for generations.

– Supporting the creation of a well educated populace, who the research shows will likely not vote Republican.

So you’re right. There are no free lunches. There are investments in bettering individual people for the public good. Those of us who believe in the power of public investment in young people will fight you and your selfish agenda every step of the way. Buckle up, because it’s going to be a bumpy four years.

Published by Dr. Corinne Hyde

I'm an Assistant Teaching Professor of Clinical Education at the University of Southern California's Rossier School of Education. My research focuses on faculty adaptation to online learning, synchronous virtual classrooms, and the intersection of learning theory and technology. I teach mostly learning theory and technology/new media literacy courses to graduate students. Prior to becoming a professor, I was a classroom teacher in a high needs school in Los Angeles, a private educational administrator, a community preschool teacher, and a behavior interventionist. I hold a B.S. in Elementary Education from The University of Central Florida, and a M.S.Ed. in Educational Psychology and Instructional Technology and an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership, with a focus in Educational Psychology, from the University of Southern California. I have been certified as a classroom teacher in FL, CA, and LA, and I hold administration and ELD certifications in California and Louisiana. I currently live in Louisiana with my husband, my daughter, and my 3 dogs.

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