The school garden movement is well-intentioned but disastrously misguided, Caitlin Flanagan writes, and will “contribute to the creation of a permanent, uneducated underclass” while robbing “that group of the very force necessary to change its fate"—namely, education. Alice Waters of Chez Panisse fame has been the driving force behind the experiment, which “is predicated on a set of assumptions that are largely unproved, even unexamined.” Underachieving kids don’t need gardens; they need schooling.
Imagine the child of an immigrant farm laborer who worked so his offspring could have a better life, Flanagan writes in the Atlantic. The “boy walks though the imposing double doors of his new school, stows his backpack, and then heads out to the field, where he stoops under a hot sun and begins to pick lettuce.” Even when kids aren’t in the garden, curricula are often designed to mesh with what they're doing outdoors. Sure, grades sometimes go up, “which makes sense given that a recipe is much easier to write than a coherent paragraph on The Crucible.” But only one of those skills will get you into college.