So, who am I? I’m a mother of 3, a true Georgia Peach. I’m a blue jean wearing, gun totin’, no makeup wearin’, camo lovin’, not afraid to get dirty, coffee in the summer kind of girl. I’ve seen a lot and I’ve done a lot. What I have been told, what I have seen, what I have been a part of, that is where my opinions come from, I write like I talk. So all of you grammar snobs, just breathe. It will be okay!
CHEATING THE SYSTEM
I have worked many different jobs. One of which was a kindergarten parapro at an elementary school in the South Gwinnett Cluster. This has been some years ago. There were several things that struck me while I was there. One has stuck with me and I continue to see it now.
How is it a child is allowed to be on free or reduced lunch, yet be able to bring $1.00 every day for ice cream? Wear very expensive clothing? Have parents driving very nice vehicles? Nails are always manicured? Hair is always fixed, colored, cut, extended, etc.?
Now, before you start getting defensive, I would actually ask the child after he/she would model their new clothing, “where did you get your new shoes?” or “where did you get that awesome shirt?” The #1 answer was “we went to the mall!” So, saying, it was a gift or from a second hand store….yea, that story is out the window.
So here is where cheating the system comes in. I actually looked into that form for my child. I was divorced, receiving child support, and getting help from family. By being honest, he did not qualify. Then it struck me. Most of these kids live in a house with 2 parents, however, the majority of the parents are not married.
How do I know that? Anyone who has ever worked in a school knows you get to know the child and the family. So, by living in a household where the parents were not married, the mother was able to fill the form out using only her income. So, in turn, her child could qualify.
Cheating the system! If you have a double income family, you know as good as I do, one is the “bread winner”. Most of the time, it is the male. But that part of the “household income” is conveniently left off the form because he is not the biological father OR not married to the mother.
There are some families who really and truly need, qualify, and deserve free or reduced lunch. It broke my heart to hear some of the REAL stories of what these children were living in and going through. Many nights, I prayed for all 26 in my class. Even though I was struggling, I would still spend any extra money out of my pocket to make sure the kids in my class had what they needed. ALL teachers do that!
We live in a “Gimme, gimme, gimme” society. It is so hard to watch. My husband works his hind end off so I can stay home with our 3 kids. Daycare is crazy expensive. But yet, there are many months we struggle. We are robbing Peter to pay Paul. BUT, because we are HONEST in everything we do, we have to pay late fees, overdraft fees, and eat PB&J’s. Explain how this is fair?
School is about to start. Parents, PLEASE, think about how you fill out the financial forms. Ask yourself this: “Can I afford $40 a month for my child to have lunch every day?” (that is an average of what I spend on my son every month to eat lunch). If the answer is “YES”, then PAY IT! Let another child who deserves assistance be able to receive that assistance. Even better, get to know the other families in your child’s class. If there is someone who is struggling, HELP THEM OUT!! If you are blessed financially, then thank God, or whomever you believe in. Don’t cheat the system to save $40 a month.
That is my opinion! Agree, or not, it is happening! I saw it first hand!