As a former Richmond County public school educator, it's imperative for me to revisit a serious issue that I addressed more than two years ago.
Since I'm addressing this issue for a second time, I would like to acquire a consensus of local physicians and other health professionals who care about the health and well-being of pupils attending public middle and high schools in Richmond County. I would like for health professionals to correspond with school officials because they have the expertise to educate those officials about facts pertaining to the epidemic of ill health that confronts pupils.
It disturbs me greatly that our public school system continues to exploit pupils for monetary gain. This school organization is profiting in a major way from the selling of unhealthy artificial fruit drinks to students. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, striving to oversee good health for all Americans, issued a stern and comprehensive report documenting harmful effects and health risks fruit drinks pose for American children. And when the CDC speaks, Americans listen.
Artificial fruit drinks are contributing factors for high rates of obesity, diabetes, hypertension and glucose in our children. The CDC has informed Americans that the ill health of our children in America has reached epidemic proportions- but this alarming report has not been enough to make Richmond County Board of Education officials remove fruit drink machines from all middle and high schools.
I realize that children can acquire these unhealthy drinks outside of their school environments, but public school officials are not supposed to created easy access for these pupils to engage in unhealthy practices. And I'm convinced that our public school officials must not be in the business of jeopardizing children's health just to acquire financial profits for the school system.
It is totally wrong and distasteful that supposedly intelligent and caring adults would be involved with this exploitation practice. It is apparent to me that school officials don't have a problem with pupils becoming unhealthy from these fruit drinks as long as the school system reaps major financial profits. Is this being "sicko" or what?
It's fair to say that these school officials are practicing hypocrisy. They convey messages to the public that they really care about the well-being of pupils. But on the other hand, these same individuals are ignoring pertinent health information that would be beneficial and meaningful for the pupils they're suppose to be protecting. What's wrong with this picture?
I would have assumed that - since 72 percent of pupils in the Richmond County school system are pupils of color - some school board members of color would have addressed this serious issue more than two years ago. But it's obvious to me that some of these board members of color just want to be paid while students of color get played. Is this a twisted situation or what?
It's unfortunate and sad for me to say these harsh things about school officials. But it's now time for the Richmond County Board of Education to cancel the contracts it has with major corporate drink organizations. All fruit drink machines should be removed from all middle and high schools. It's the responsibility of school officials to promote and encourage healthy dietary habits for all pupils, drink healthy fluids such as water, milk and orange juice.
Our school officials must be responsible for doing positive and productive things to enhance, enrich and enlighten the lives of children, and not to harm them. Parents have put trust in school officials who are suppose to be intelligent, educated and responsible leaders for their children. Therefore, parents definitely deserve for their children to be top priority when it comes to the health and safety of these individuals.
Is this going to stop? This is the million-dollar question that only Richmond County public school officials can answer.
(Editor's note: The writer is a former Richmond County public school teacher with 31 years of teaching service. He lives in Augusta.)