I hope that readers are enjoying the Back to School season. Who is celebrating like Homer and Marge Simpson (“You’re the government’s problem now.”)?
Is it in fact possible to substantially turn a child over to the government, though? Surely you can’t get out of cooking breakfast for the kids, arranging after-school care, and supervising homework, right? Well… talking to a schoolteacher whose class is just outside 128, the Boston ring highway, I learned that the METCO kids get picked up by a government-provided bus at around 6:00 am from Boston, are served breakfast by public school employees, then attend class with the local kids. After school officially ends, the METCO kids are supervised by a government-paid teacher who nags them into doing homework. If they don’t play sports they’ll be placed on a 5:30 pm bus and be home around 6:30 pm (or never, depending on Boston traffic). If they are on a sports team they will catch a 7:30 pm bus and thus the parents will have been relieved of responsibility for their children from 6:00 am through 8:30 pm every weekday. What about cooking dinner? If children are told to eat big meals when the taxpayers are buying and reminded that Sumo wrestlers can reach 600 pounds on just two meals per day it seems to me that a parent’s culinary efforts on behalf of offspring could be limited to purchasing apples and cheese sticks for self-service at-home snacks.
What are the practical first steps toward unloading a child into METCO? This page explains the criteria. (The officials behind the page list “race” as the last and perhaps least important criteria, but people with whom I have talked say that children are sorted first by skin color. As one of the goals of the program is to “increase diversity, and reduce racial isolation” (home page), children are selected for having a different skin color than children in the suburbs. Essentially this means that parents of children whom government officials identify as “white” are out of luck due to the fact that Boston suburbs are already mostly white.)