Friday, June 17, 2011

Brian Sandoval to Nevada Students: "No Breakfast for You!"

No, really. I'm not even kidding.

Gov. Brian Sandoval has vetoed four more bills, including one to require certain public and charter schools to supply a free breakfast to children and another to allow inmates out of prison earlier.

The governor said Assembly Bill 137 would require free breakfast at any public school, including a charter school that is eligible to operate a program of nutrition in accordance with federal regulations. The bill said the breakfast must be served after the day begins in the classroom in a transportable manner or in the cafeteria.

Oh, I can already hear the excuses on AB 137...

"We can't afford it!"

"The school districts can decide on that."

"No freeloaders!"

Here are the facts. This is a FEDERALLY FUNDED PROGRAM. The money is already there, as it's distributed by USDA. And we're talking about kids from working poor families where they may not be able to get breakfast at home.

And think about the return on investment.

Many children do not eat a nutritious breakfast every morning. Often families are living on very tight budgets and can’t afford to provide good breakfasts at home every day nor the money to buy them at school. Regardless of income, families today live busy lives that often make it difficult to sit down long enough in the morning to eat a nutritious breakfast. Sometimes children are not physically capable of eating breakfast at home when they first wake up. Other children may have long commutes to school or long periods between breakfast at home and school lunch, making breakfast at school an important option.

Studies conclude that students who eat school breakfast increase their math and reading scores as well as improve their speed and memory in cognitive tests. Research also shows that children who eat breakfast at school – closer to class and test-taking time – perform better on standardized tests than those who skip breakfast or eat breakfast at home. Evidence has grown that children who eat school breakfast are less likely to be overweight, and have improved nutrition – they eat more fruits, drink more milk, and consume a wider variety of foods than those who don’t eat breakfast or have breakfast at home.

Schools that provide universal breakfast in the classroom report decreases in discipline and psychological problems, visits to school nurses and tardiness; increases in student attentiveness and attendance; and generally improved learning environments. Universal school breakfast refers to any school program that offers breakfast at no charge to all students, regardless of income.

So what's the issue here? Did Sandoval just have to throw this bone to teabaggers (by denying breakfast to poor kids)? Are certain folks in Carson City that happy to watch poor kids starve? Does Clark County School District need yet another excuse to do nothing about the suffering happening under its watch?

Yet again, Nevada leads the way in kicking the working poor while they're already down.

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