I will give Shelby County school board president David Pickler credit for one thing (Politics, December 16th issue): He finally got the citizens of this county to talk realistically about our schools. Of course, the Memphis school board surrendering its charter is probably not the outcome he had hoped for.
What Pickler and his supporters want is quite simple: an impermeable barrier between school systems, with a subsequent tax break for county residents and an increase for city residents. They don't seem to realize that the more they weaken the city of Memphis, the weaker their own communities become. A hollowed-out urban core brings everybody down; conversely, a vibrant, thriving city of Memphis benefits every Shelby County resident — from downtown to Collierville.
This is a real opportunity, even if it's somewhat forced upon us, to make a change that will benefit all of us and, more importantly, all of our children.
If Nancy Pelosi had broken down in tears the way John Boehner continues to do at what seems like every public appearance, the GOP would have had a field day screaming about her being too weak to handle the job of speaker of the House. They would have criticized her for being a woman who is not emotionally strong enough to take on the role and as someone who is not able to tackle all the obstacles facing our country.
Boehner cries when he talks about his childhood, his family, Iraq war veterans, schoolchildren, and how he's pulled himself up by his bootstraps to achieve his version of the American dream while "mopping floors to get by." He cried when he became the most powerful Republican in America, and, most recently, he choked up when he was interviewed on 60 Minutes.
What I find most ironic is the fact he has no empathy for people trying to do the same thing today. His tears are reserved for his hardships, and his alone, and not those of the people he should be representing as the new "Weeper of the House."
Eat Your Veggies
Last week, President Obama signed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act — the first major bipartisan bill enacted by this deeply polarized Congress since the November elections. The act will replace junk food in school lunches and vending machines with more healthful options.
Several jurisdictions have taken similar action. The Hawaii, California, New York, and Florida legislatures passed resolutions recommending vegan school options. Last year, the Baltimore City public school system became the first in the nation to offer its 80,000 students a weekly meat-free lunch. According to the School Nutrition Association, 65 percent of U.S. schools now offer vegetarian lunch options.
In the past, the USDA has used the National School Lunch Program as a dumping ground for surplus meat and dairy commodities. Not surprisingly, 90 percent of American children consume excessive amounts of fat, and only 15 percent eat the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables. These early dietary flaws become lifelong addictions, raising the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
Those who care about our children's health should demand healthful plant-based school meals, snacks, and vending machine items. Additional information is available at healthyschoollunches.org and schoolnutrition.org. Trevor Faust Memphis
Yes, Virginia, Republicans in your state, and in many other states, want to repeal the new health-care bill. The GOP has also been trying to do the same with Medicare and Social Security since their inception. What have Republicans got against well-run government programs? Thanks to saner minds that were in power in the past, you're still receiving your Social Security check every month and Medicare services.
The rest of the industrialized world enjoys universal health care from birth to death. Can all these countries be wrong? If you're Fox News, Republicans, and the Tea Party, the answer is yes. If they have their way, 300 million Americans will lose the opportunity for health-care reform and eventual universal health coverage.
Evil stalks the land in the form of the Republican Party, which has aspirations to deny you the health-care coverage you deserve; and if the GOP can find a way to dismantle Social Security and Medicare, they will. Are you listening, America? The 50 million Americans who benefit from these programs seem oblivious to the intentions of the GOP. Ron Lowe
Nevada City, California
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