Whine and cheese

In June 2007, Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongowski signed a bill into law that banned the sale of unhealthy snack foods in the state’s public schools.

In June 2007, Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongowski signed a bill into law that banned the sale of unhealthy snack foods in the state’s public schools. The bill, intended to help curb the unhealthy eating habits that lead to childhood obesity, went into effect in September 2008.

Everyone seemed to agree that it seemed like a great idea to prohibit the sale of high-fat, high-calorie food.

Until recently, that is.

The law restricts the sale of all junk food on public school grounds, which also includes the teacher’s lounges.

There are some teachers that aren’t too happy about this, claiming that they are adults who should be able to make their own decisions about what kinds of food they eat, without interference from legislation. In response to these protests, the Oregon House Education committee has drawn up a bill proposing that staff areas be exempt from the ban on vending machines that dispense soda, candy and other snacks.

In a recent Oregonian article, Lake Oswego schoolteacher Joel Glick calls the current ban on the sale of junk food on school grounds an “injustice,” which seems to be a bit dramatic, considering that anyone—teachers and students—can bring any kind of food they want with them to school, they just can’t buy it there.

Since school-aged children are not typically doing their own grocery shopping, it might actually place some limitations on their access to junk food—if their parents don’t provide it and they have no access to unhealthy snacks at school. But for the teachers who are complaining about their lack of access to vending machines packed full of crap, I have no sympathy.

If you are an adult fully capable of making your own choices, and you choose to eat barbeque flavored Cheetos and drink Yoo-Hoo for lunch, by all means, go right ahead. Buy it at the store then bring it to work—just like millions of other adults who are able to procure the nourishment (or lack thereof) that they consume in the workplace.

This is hardly a matter to bring before the state Legislature. It should be a non-issue. The fact that educators are willing to make a stink about it is disappointing to the point of being depressing.

I’m inspired when I hear about teachers who are protesting the fact that they are being forced to teach abstinence-only sex education. I’m happy to see educators fight to keep art, music and extracurricular programs from being eliminated; I’m proud of all the teachers that have struggled against the cookie-cutter unfairness of the No Child Left Behind program.

And then there’s this group of teachers, insisting that they are being horribly wronged because they aren’t provided with immediate access to food that is bad for them. This is a perfect example of the kind of “do as I say, not as I do,” misuse of authority that only creates a lack of respect through its blatant hypocrisy.

No one is granted immediate access to snacks in the workplace—that is not an actual right. If we can’t fairly expect our teachers to be the paradigm of human virtue, we should at least be able to expect them not to act like bigger brats than the kids they are teaching.