29 students punished after paying for $2 lunches with pennies
2/29/2008, 2:13 p.m. ET
READINGTON TOWNSHIP, N.J.
Readington Township school officials gave 29 students detention after they used pennies to pay for their $2 lunches.
Superintendent Jorden Schiff says it started out as a prank. But as the eighth-graders began to get in trouble for taking up so much time, it turned into a protest about Thursday's shortened lunch period.
Schiff says the students were punished for holding up their peers and disrespecting lunch aides.
Schiff says some parents think a two-day detention went too far and others think it wasn't enough.
The school says it wants students to know they can express themselves without disrupting other people.
On the contrary the students were expressing themselves in a way that was nonviolent and creative and we should be proud of them. The students should be rewarded for their creative protest. In a democratic society we would promote, encourage, and honor such protests as a way for the otherwise powerless to promote their interest within the commonweal. These creative ways of getting bosses and authorities to listens, people who rarely listen to those less powerful than they are, should be taught to children as part of their preparation for citizenship.
As far as the story itself is concerned I have a few questions for the reporters: Were the students interviewed? Why should we take the word of the authority who metes out punishment? Why not ask the kids for their side? How long was the lunch period? How long does it normally take kids to get lunch and eat it?
Of course I know the reason why the kids weren't asked to contribute to this story. Their opinion really doesn't count. This is a small story and it is easier to get the story from the official, the bureaucrat, the authority or the boss, than to do the foot work and write the story as it should be written. The Associated Press certainly doesn't have the resources. But shouldn't some local paper have the resources? Shouldn't someone at least post the story of the kids on their weblog? Anyone out there in cyberspace know these kids? If you do interview them and post their stories. Maybe we have a couple of future union organizers among them.
So maybe the lunch period should be longer. And maybe the lunch should be free.