Sunday, February 20, 2011

Should it be a crime to leave school at lunchtime?

“Off campus during lunch? Florida lawmakers think it oughta be a crime”

“So the cafeteria lunch stinks and McDonalds is just around the corner. Big deal that you just need a few minutes to clear your head and get away from it all.

Two Miami-Dade lawmakers want to make it illegal to leave high school at lunch time and empower police to arrest students who do.

Rep. Esteban Bovo Jr. and Sen. Rene Garcia, both Hialeah Republicans, have filed identical 
bills saying simply: "A public high school student may be arrested for leaving school grounds during his or her designated lunch period. District school boards shall implement this section by July 1, 2015."

The above is from

A major difference between schools in the US and Canada, is the Canadian high schools allow their students to leave school grounds at lunchtime. When he started school in Ontario my eldest couldn’t believe it when he was allowed to walk with his friends to the local mall (5 mins from school) and order a subway sandwich for lunch. In addition, he has an hour for lunch, so he has time to eat, and make friends. Just a little bit of freedom has made a big difference for him. Yes, all the students come back to school after lunch.

In the US, he was not allowed to leave the school grounds, and often ate lunch alone because of the staggered lunch schedule. If he did have the same lunch as a friend, he had to decide whether to eat, or have a conversation, since he only had 20 minutes to eat, and 5 minutes to get from class to the cafeteria, and 5 minutes to get back to class from the cafeteria. Bathroom breaks were only allowed 3 times per semester, so he wasn’t allowed to do that either. It seemed like way to much control. He told a Canadian friend that he wasn’t allowed to leave campus during lunch and they asked “were you in prison, or in school”. It seemed unbelievable to his friends in Canada that everything was so strict. Additionally, his classrooms had no windows, and there were security cameras everywhere with a direct stream to the Pinellas County Sheriff's office, and 3 armed school resource officers wearing bullet proof vests continually roamed the school hallways. My son went to one of the most sought after schools in the county.

Now two Florida lawmakers was to criminalize children for leaving school at lunchtime. It seems to me if you give the children a little responsibility most will return after lunch. After all, they go home in the evening and come back the next day – or do we want to keep students at the schools overnight to make sure they return to class the next day?

Aren’t we arresting too many American children from school?

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