It’s the end of another school year and that means it’s time for the ritual end-of-year picnic, where all the parents are invited to join their children and teachers in a gathering to celebrate the last day of school.

Well, not quite all the parents, as the following message about the picnic, which was sent home to all parents at my son’s school makes clear:

“There have been some questions about parents bringing food for their child or for themselves to the picnic. We would like to ask that you NOT bring any kind of extra food for yourself or for your child to the picnic. A delicious meal of hot dogs, chips, desserts, and drinks has been planned and it would be unfair for some children and/or parents to have special food at the picnic when others do not. All students attending the picnic are expected to eat a hot dog. If you as a parent are planning to eat lunch at the picnic, please plan to eat a hot dog. If you would like to eat something else, you will need to eat elsewhere before or after the picnic.”

It’s heartening to know that if you’re a Muslim, a vegetarian, an animal rights activist or just someone who has concerns about eating food full of fat and cholesterol, you can be excluded from joining a picnic at a public elementary school.

In Wake County we’re working hard to encourage parental involvement in our schools and to make sure no child is left behind–as long as they’re willing to eat hot dogs.