Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Support Our Annual Fund Drive! We only ask one time of year, but when we do, we mean it. Without your support we can’t continue to bring you the very best material, day-in and day-out. CounterPunch is one of the last common spaces on the Internet. Help make sure it stays that way.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Caffeine and the First Amendment

by JOHN BOROWSKI

Apparently, defending children from the perils of caffeine “upsets the applecart.” My principal informed me that “down town” a reference to the superintendent’s office was vexed by my overt and public criticism of our school district’s unholy alliance with PepsiCo. I was instructed not to state that I was an employee of the Salem/Keizer school district when I wrote editorials critical of our soda “contract” with PepsiCo. Emails about the pitfalls of the soda contract were not to be shared with fellow teachers during school hours.

With the opening of a 6th high school in Salem this fall, an innovative young cheerleader named Andrea Boyes, got permission from a booster’s club to sell bottled water under the new school’s logo, the “Titans.” PepsiCo with exclusive pouring rights in the Salem schools, including their own bottle water, ‘Aquafina’, quickly squashed the deal. Besides peddling colored sugar water to bring school district’s begging for hard cash, PepsiCo would not let young Ms. Boyes threaten their $27 Billion dollar empire built mostly on caffeine, coloring and sugar.

Ironically, Ms. Boyes was made to be the scapegoat, circumventing protocol and interfering with the sacred powers that invade public schools seeking brand loyalty and windfall profits: health be damned. Instead of scorn, Ms. Boyes should have been heaped with praise. Her courage persuaded me to act like the public servant I am and not a bought out corporate quisling.

Pandora’s box has swung open: spewing the ugly and twisted alliance between schools and a corporate seducer. Reading page 33 of the new West Salem High Parent/Student handbook reveals a colossal blunder on part of the school district. Under “Use of Tobacco Products, Alcohol and Other Drugs, the policy clearly outlines rules against caffeine products. “No Doze or caffeine tablets” are clearly grounds for administrative action against students! With “No Doze” specifically mentioned, the 100 mg of caffeine per tablet is considered a health threat. With a 12- ounce pop containing 55.5 mg, students need only drink two pops and they are in violation of the “no tolerance policy.” I routinely see students walking with open 2 liter bottles in my school, obviously they are using too much caffeine as laid out by the districts’ own policy.

The district claims that a 10 year, five million dollar contract is too good to renege. What is not explained is that this dollar value is based on increasing pop sales 5% each year, every year of the ten- year contract! What parents don’t know is that PepsiCo has all the focus on cash, not children. They suggest the school investigate a “credit card” type purchasing for students. I imagine the parents could be billed later. The soda king suggests redoing the electrical capabilities in grade schools, where antiquated buildings could handle the new pop machines. “Pepsi would request the District name a funding program, the Pepsi Scholarship”. The only wrinkle you ask? “This program is to act as a volume incentive for Students in the District.” The more they drink, the more scholarship money is earned. How despicable can this multinational be? How low will we grovel for needed money? Will we not employee the lessons of civic responsibility we claim to teach to our young adults?

Having two daughters, will I blindly accept that public schools are now actively encouraging students to pursue a life of osteoporosis and diabetes? As a teacher of over 24 years, will I not heed my own words of encouragement to the thousands of students I have taught, “one person makes a world of difference.”

I know we live in a time of incredible fear. Stay quiet, stay numb and be a hapless consumer. Every thing apparently is up for sale, even the health of children and the integrity of schools. The First Amendment challenges us to be citizens who question the tyranny of silence. Parenthood urges us to protect our youth no matter the might of those backed by the sacred dollar. Teachers need to reconsider their role as educators nowhere does their job description call for being obsequious lapdogs to corporate carpetbaggers looking to make schools their market for lifelong consumers.

I refuse to sheepishly follow the new order of corporate domination. Will others join together to get soda pop contracts and fast food out of public schools? Will the adults of this nation step up as elders to defend the health of children? PepsiCo is selling and I am not buying. Nor are young Ms. Boyes and her family.

The children of this nation are waiting to see what we do. Maybe “upsetting the apple cart” will be viewed as a good thing.

John F. Borowski is an Environmental and Marine Science Teacher at North Salem High, Salem, Oregon. He can be reached at jenjill@proaxis.com

 

John Borowski is an environmental educator in Oregon.

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

September 27, 2016
Louisa Willcox
The Tribal Fight for Nature: From the Grizzly to the Black Snake of the Dakota Pipeline
Paul Street
The Roots are in the System: Charlotte and Beyond
Jeffrey St. Clair
Idiot Winds at Hofstra: Notes on the Not-So-Great Debate
Mark Harris
Clinton, Trump, and the Death of Idealism
Mike Whitney
Putin Ups the Ante: Ceasefire Sabotage Triggers Major Offensive in Aleppo
Anthony DiMaggio
The Debates as Democratic Façade: Voter “Rationality” in American Elections
Binoy Kampmark
Punishing the Punished: the Torments of Chelsea Manning
Paul Buhle
Why “Snowden” is Important (or How Kafka Foresaw the Juggernaut State)
Jack Rasmus
Hillary’s Ghosts
Brian Cloughley
Billions Down the Afghan Drain
Lawrence Davidson
True Believers and the U.S. Election
Matt Peppe
Taking a Knee: Resisting Enforced Patriotism
James McEnteer
Eugene, Oregon and the Rising Cost of Cool
Norman Pollack
The Great Debate: Proto-Fascism vs. the Real Thing
Michael Winship
The Tracks of John Boehner’s Tears
John Steppling
Fear Level Trump
Lawrence Wittner
Where Is That Wasteful Government Spending?
James Russell
Beyond Debate: Interview Styles of the Rich and Famous
September 26, 2016
Diana Johnstone
The Hillary Clinton Presidency has Already Begun as Lame Ducks Promote Her War
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Against Russia
Dave Lindorff
Parking While Black: When Police Shoot as First Resort
Robert Crawford
The Political Rhetoric of Perpetual War
Howard Lisnoff
The Case of One Homeless Person
Michael Howard
The New York Times Endorses Hillary, Scorns the World
Russell Mokhiber
Wells Fargo and the Library of Congress’ National Book Festival
Chad Nelson
The Crime of Going Vegan: the Latest Attack on Angela Davis
Colin Todhunter
A System of Food Production for Human Need, Not Corporate Greed
Brian Cloughley
The United States Wants to Put Russia in a Corner
Guillermo R. Gil
The Clevenger Effect: Exposing Racism in Pro Sports
David Swanson
Turn the Pentagon into a Hospital
Ralph Nader
Are You Ready for Democracy?
Chris Martenson
Hell to Pay
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Debate Night: Undecided is Everything, Advantage Trump
Frank X Murphy
Power & Struggle: the Detroit Literacy Case
Chris Knight
The Tom and Noam Show: a Review of Tom Wolfe’s “The Kingdom of Speech”
Weekend Edition
September 23, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
The Meaning of the Trump Surge
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: More Pricks Than Kicks
Mike Whitney
Oh, Say Can You See the Carnage? Why Stand for a Country That Can Gun You Down in Cold Blood?
Chris Welzenbach
The Diminution of Chris Hayes
Vincent Emanuele
The Riots Will Continue
Rob Urie
A Scam Too Far
Pepe Escobar
Les Deplorables
Patrick Cockburn
Airstrikes, Obfuscation and Propaganda in Syria
Timothy Braatz
The Quarterback and the Propaganda
Sheldon Richman
Obama Rewards Israel’s Bad Behavior
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail