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Fourth Graders Get a Free Pass on National Park Admission


So do you think you are “Smarter Than a 5th Grader,” as the show hosted by Jeff Foxworthy asks, when it pits adult contestants against elementary school-aged children?

Well, it doesn’t matter because in order to take advantage of President Barack Obama’s latest social giveaway, you need only be as smart and the same age as a fourth grader.

In return, you and your family will be given free passes to national parks and other federal lands for a full year.

The ‘Every Kid in a Park initiative’ is aimed at getting schoolchildren outdoors and more active. The program is scheduled to begin in the fall next year and coincides with the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service in 2016.

The idea appears to be an extension of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move program which sets government guidelines for families and their children to follow if they are to achieve good health. It should be noted that the guidelines of Michelle’s program are void of medical professionals’ expertise.

At first glance, the start of the Every Kid in a Park program does not seem to have been well thought out by this administration.

kids in parkThe program is slated to begin in the fall after school is back in session. If the aim is to get children outdoors with their families wouldn’t it make more sense to initiate the program during the summer when more families would be able to vacation together in those national parks?

It will be more difficult for families to make the trip together with school back in session. However, perhaps this is part of the plan. With parents out of the way, government run schools will be free to teach these children without interference or input from parents.

Since the Park Service with assistance from the National Parks Foundation will also provide grants for free transportation for schools that need it, and educational materials for teachers, it would appear that the government has already planned for proceeding without the elementary school children’s parents.

Also, the cost of the program is not clear. Although, it has been calculated, as you might expect under this “transparent” administration, the total cost of the initiative has not been made public.

Even though the total cost of the free passes for the fourth graders and their families, and grants for free transportation and educational materials for teachers was not specified by the administration, it was revealed that the monies for the program would be allocated out of the $20 million Park Service budget for youth engagement programs.

However, there was no discussion or plan disclosed about how the costs would be paid should the price tag exceed those funds allocated in the Park Service budget.

cell phone picsThis program is reminiscent of the failed Obama Phone federal initiative which gave free cell phone usage to low-income families who qualified. The program ballooned in size from $800 million in 2005 to $2.2 billion in 2012 and reportedly has been fraught with abuse and fraud.

The Federal Communications Commission has sought more than $14.4 million in fines against companies that allegedly defrauded the program. In the end, the taxpayer ended up paying more for the program than was originally forecasted by the Obama administration.

This new initiative could also end up costing American taxpayers more than originally predicted. Widespread fraud in this “free” government program could become rampant as today’s definition of family expands. Virtually anyone could claim that they are entitled to receive a free pass because of their “relationship” with the fourth grader.

The selection of recipients by the administration is also puzzling for some.

When asked why the administration chose this particular age group, the response was again one that you might expect from this administration.

The White House official indicated that the choice was based on “logistical, educational and instructional reasons.” In other words, no clear rationale was given for why this specific age group was selected.

The official went on to say that, “NPS and other land and water agencies already have fourth grade programming in place in many locations.” “Many states focus on state history during the fourth grade, which aligns well with what NPS and other land managers have to offer,” the official concluded.

If there are already programs in place for this age group then why not give another age group an opportunity that they currently don’t have, assuming that this is a good plan in the first place?

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The White House also came up with an even more confusing reason for choosing fourth graders based on the fact that “they have only one teacher, making it easier for them to reach the group and research which shows the earlier a youth connects with the outdoors the better for their development long term.”

The official said also that age 11 was the last chance to make those important impacts and building of a relationship with nature.

What research did the administration use to conclude that the younger a child connects with the outdoors the better it is for their long-term development and who arbitrarily picked age 11 as being the “last chance” to strike up a relationship with nature?

We may never know who the brainchild was behind the program and why they considered their choices to be essential. As with Michelle’s Let’s Move program, perhaps only government’s opinion is deemed necessary by those in charge to arrive at any given conclusion.

Additionally, this program extends far beyond those fourth graders who may need financial help to pay the entrance fees to a national park by including “all” fourth graders and their families.

While the program may initially appeal to some parents of fourth graders who would not otherwise be able to afford to go to national parks without the assistance of the government, it represents yet another overreaching social program that will once again financially burden the taxpayer.

The “freebies” program will include children and families who are financially able to pay for entrance fees to national parks on their own and without government assistance. Yet, the taxpayers will be strapped with their bill, as well.

obama vacayAll in all, the new fourth grader and family free pass initiative seems eerily similar to the ‘Every Vacation for the President and his family’ plan, which while not really an initiative, has cost this country’s taxpayers well over $40 million to date.

Americans are fed up with this administration’s overindulgence which continues to disregard the impact on the taxpayer. The new initiative appears to be one more example of excess.


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About Author

Susan Calloway Knowles

Susan Calloway Knowles, is a licensed Psychotherapist and former practicing Family Law Attorney, Author, Guest Speaker on Conservative Internet Radio, and a political/cultural Blogger. Susan is also an avid investigative researcher having honed her skills in the legal profession. Susan’s website,, covers articles she has written on an array of topics, including governmental interference of parental and children’s rights, the U.S. Constitution, military and veterans’ issues, issues pertaining to California from the viewpoint of a conservative living in a Blue State, and hot topics pertaining to the Obama Administration’s policies, including immigration policies. You can also find her on Twitter at @SusanKnowles. Susan’s book, a political fiction, is entitled “Freedom’s Fight: A Call to Remember,” and is available on Amazon.

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