Fat Pack Roll Call!

On September 9, I noted the unusual number of independent news stories on childhood obesity and school nutrition. There didn’t seem to be a compelling reason for the issue to be suddenly splashed across the pages of America’s newspapers just at that time. But now there’s no escaping it. In just the last 18 days, here are the publications that I’ve caught joining the fat pack journalism movement:

Associated Press
Los Angeles Times (twice)
Minneapolis Star-Tribune
Salt Lake City Tribune
Sacramento Bee
Detroit News
Baltimore Sun
San Diego Union-Tribune
Kansas City Star
Washington Post
New York Times

And now, to add the latest pups to the pack:

Washington Post (again)
Nashville Tennessean
Arkansas News Bureau

Thank you. Now we can all get back to our doughnuts.


Parents Feed Their Own Kids, Cause School District Problems

Any student enrolled in the Miami-Dade Public Schools gets free breakfast simply by showing up. But the Miami Herald reports that only 85,000 kids are taking advantage of it, less than one-quarter of the student population.

Uh, maybe their parents choose to feed them at home, rather than rearrange their schedules to get the kids to school early enough for breakfast. Or maybe they’ve been reading the mountain of stories on childhood obesity written by the fat pack journalists — including yesterday’s New York Times and a Parade magazine article on the topic by Bill Clinton!


Beats Studying

* Considering California’s lofty position in the state education rankings — barely edging out Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi in the reading and math NAEP tests — one might conclude that students aren’t learning. But it’s clear even the poorest performers are are absorbing certain lessons.

* Mickey Kaus boldly strolls into the minefield — contrasting the real world with that of unions and Democratic Party politics.


"A Hefty Latte and a Muffin"

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation (NRTWLDF) held a press conference yesterday to announce its lawsuit against the California Teachers Association’s political dues assessment. And, as might have been predicted, all their speakers were shouted down by a mob of union activists.

Let’s tell the story in quotes from the players:

– “In the spirit of silencing dissent, they came out to try to intimidate the teachers who were trying to assert their constitutional rights,” said NRTWLDF Vice President Stefan Gleason. “It didn’t work.”

– “We bend over backwards to observe the rights of members and fee payers,” said CTA President Barbara Kerr.

– “This is an example of the kind of intimidation, bullying and thuggery that our public school teachers are enduring (from the union) every day,” said state Sen. Tom McClintock, R-Thousand Oaks, who was there to support the lawsuit.

– Asked about the fact that the dues assessment is ostensibly targeted for debt service and not political action, CTA spokesperson Sandra Jackson said, “To my knowledge, there is no loan. I don’t know about any loan.” (Maybe the Union Fairy left the $21 million CTA spent in one day earlier this month.)

– But the quote of the day goes to Paula Caplinger, member of the CTA board of directors. After warming up with “Proposition 75 is all about silencing workers’ voices. I guess it’s a little taste of what a silenced voice is like,” Caplinger really hit her stride by stating that the $6 per month assessment was merely the cost of “a hefty latte and a muffin.”

No doubt Ms. Caplinger would object to my taking $6 per month from her paycheck so I can buy a hefty latte and a muffin, or maybe just use the money to support EIA. Alas, the law says when I do it, it’s stealing.


CTA Dues Increase Brings Class Action Suit

* The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation will announce the filing of a class action suit against the California Teachers Association over its $54 million special assessment to fund its campaign against November’s ballot initiatives. A press conference will be held at 11 a.m. Pacific time.

* Attorneys for the NEA-affiliated Education Support Employees Association (ESEA) asked the Nevada Supreme Court to cancel a union representation election for some 8,000 school employees. The union has been embroiled in a battle with Teamsters Local 14 for more than three years. ESEA claims the Teamsters need to provide a membership list to force an election. The Teamsters claim they have enough signature cards to satisfy the law. A Teamster win would be devastating to NEA in Nevada.