Earlier this month Stacy Koltiska, a school lunchroom cashier at Wylandville Elementary School in Eighty Four, PA., resigned from her job after being forced to refuse hot lunches to students with an outstanding balance of more than $25. She shared her frustration with a policy that shames students and encourages waste in a Facebook post that has spread across the internet like wildfire.
“The first week of school on Friday, I had to take a little first grade boy's chicken and give him this 'cheese sandwich.' I will never forget the look on his face and then his eyes welled up with tears,” Koltiska wrote.
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She went on to highlight the abundant amount of waste that is only exacerbated by this policy: “What makes this even MORE SICKENING is that we throw so much food away EVERYDAY.”
Shaming students should never be allowed, especially in a school environment. These kinds of policies punish children for something that's completely outside of their control. It should be noted that this policy doesn't target those who qualify for free or reduced price meals. But it does target children who have no control over their parents finances.
The Washington Post reported that the school district’s superintendent, Matthew Daniels, claims the new policy has drastically reduced the number of past due accounts. The policy seems to be saving the school district money, but at what cost?
It takes bravery to do what this woman did.
How can anyone expect a child who is both hungry and embarrassed to perform well at school? How is that kid supposed to concentrate or make friends? And how can you ask a caring adult to issue such a punishment? I'd like to see the person who wrote this rule throw out perfectly good food while watching a child cry.
It takes bravery to do what this woman did. She stood up for what she felt was right, even though that meant walking away from a job that she enjoyed. Koltiska set a great example for those students she so desperately wanted to serve.
We need more adults who are willing to shine a light on injustices that our children face at school. The victims of policies such as these have no voice. They don’t make the rules, but they must follow them.
A full belly and an environment free of shame is the least we should provide all school children in this nation. Along with Common Core standards, we should have common decency standards. We have a responsibility to teach our children more than math and reading—we should be teaching kindness and empathy, as well.
And that makes Koltiska a true hero in my book.