Occasional reflections on Life, the World, and Mathematics


Apparently the US Fox News network has recently advocated withholding free lunches from poor schoolchildren, as an effective means of teaching their parents the lesson that being poor is a bad life-choice, and they should have chosen to be rich instead. (It should be noted that this represents an upgrading of American right-wing attitudes toward nutritional support for the poor, who were previously compared by leading politicians to dangerous ravening beasts.)

I’m surprised they didn’t cite the wealth of studies from the UK, showing that children receiving free school meals went on to have significantly worse GCSE (age 16 qualification) marks — suggesting that free school meals impede learning of lessons by the children as well as their parents — and had higher rates of obesity (suggesting that Fox News correctly judged that lunch is superfluous for these children). English as a Second Language and Special Education teaching, as well as foster care, appear to have similarly detrimental effects, suggesting that eliminating these supports will yield major improvements to children’s health and educational success.

(For details of the statistical methodology, see here.)

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