Where are the anti-prayer-in-schools and anti-Pledge-of-Allegiance lawyers who argue the right of atheist children not to be embarrassed in front of their peers? We could use their help to protect the health of schoolchildren who don't want to be embarrassed by the school-sponsored inducements to eat and drink unhealthy food and soda.
Schools have become a major marketing venue for companies, even more important than direct advertising. Yet there has been no public debate, or even a debate within the education community, about the adverse effects of commercializing childhood or about making kids pay with obesity for their school's profits from vending machines and a la carte menus.
Corporations look upon schoolchildren as a very profitable market because even elementary school children have an estimated $15 billion of their own money and the ability to influence $160 billion in parental purchases. The school administrators who sign the million-dollar contracts - without, of course, approval from parents - serve up schoolchildren as a captive market to corporations.
Parents who want their children to eat better can send them to school with a lunch bag from home. But, and here comes peer pressure again, surveys show that teenagers who bring a lunch usually trade it or put it in the trash.
Some local campaigns are beginning to take unhealthy foods out of schools. Palm Beach County, Fla., has inaugurated a program called Fresh-2-U that encourages students to try 20 different fresh fruits and vegetables during the school year.
This program comes with coloring pages, posters and music videos about the produce to appeal to the MTV generation. Report cards for fifth-graders will tally their fruit and vegetable consumption. Fresh-2-U is also improving the nutritional quality of school lunches and adding a dozen "healthy" vending machines in middle and high school. New dispensing-machine items will include tuna, milk and yogurt.
The exercise component of a get-trim regimen for kids may prove more difficult. Only 8 percent of elementary schools in Palm Beach County have daily recess.
The elimination of recess is one of the trendy policies imposed on schoolchildren by the feminists who want to make little boys behave like little girls. Eliminating recess gets rid of masculine games such as cops and robbers.
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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