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Mailbag 5.10.2006


This week’s Readers’ Spotlight is from Kirk Ayers who has a few comments for our own Deborah Klosky. Deb’s response follows.

Hi, Deborah,

..or should I say, Hola! I read your blog with interest and mostly agree, but I also had some other thoughts which may have already occurred to you.

I guess I don’t really care why Coke, Pepsi and their other unindicted co-conspirators are taking their highly sugared products out, just that they are. I’m not too quick to point fingers at the schools for making a deal with the proverbial devils, though. School system’s desperation for adequate funding for educational programs (let alone “luxury” programs such as art, music and athletics) has driven them to make any number of unpleasant choices and/or compromises, and this particular choice may ultimately be one of the less destructive ones.

I would be curious as to the number of the kids in these schools who don’t drink these same products at home as well. It may have seemed to be a great opportunity to pick up some significant additional funding by providing students beverages that they would prefer anyway. This seems similar to the state’s enthusiastic adoption of various gambling enterprises, from state-run lottery games to legalized Indian gaming, to assist them in balancing state budgets. In either case, public agencies are making decisions that they know will impact those whom they “serve” on a very personal level.

Ultimately, these seems as reflections of a society that increasingly depends on public services while refusing to provide adequate funding for those same services. Or it seems that way to me…

Kirk Ayers, Los Vegas, Nev.



You make an interesting point comparing schools’ money from soda sales to state earnings on gambling. If a government with policies aimed at reducing individual “no-no’s” is called a “nanny state,” what do you call the opposite, a government that encourages good old-fashioned vices to make a buck off of them? The “indifferent orphanage” state? The “drunk babysitter asleep on the couch” state?

And whatever anyone’s take on how much nannying is needed, there’s one group that by definition requires some caretaking: kids. (Yeah, yeah, cue up the soaring theme music.) The problem of course arises in defining what’s proper caretaking. There are lots of different views on whether things like, say, sex education, or the pledge of allegiance, or oh, I don’t know, reality, should be taught in schools.

Of course there’s really only one right answer to what’s proper for education: whatever I say goes. OK, OK, I haven’t been elected lord high burgermeister meisterburger, yet. And, as you point out, schools need money right now. Certainly there are worse things than a can of soda. I know we really don’t want school principals to have to figure them out.

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