business news in context, analysis with attitude

Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell has vetoed a bill establishing significant restrictions on the sale of “junk food” and soft drinks in the state’s public schools.

Rell, a Republican, said she was taking the action because the legislation would have usurped the power of local school districts and undermined the “control and responsibility of parents with school-aged children.” Rell said that she preferred that the state Department of Education create recommendations for the schools, rather than mandate anything.

The bill, if she had signed it, would have created some of the most restrictive standards for the sale and serving of food in public schools, reducing the amounts of high-calorie, low-nutrition soft drinks and snacks sold in cafeterias, school stores and vending machines located inside the schools.

The vetoes bill also would have required 100 minutes of recess a week for elementary school students, but Rell said that by mandating a certain level of recess, it could shorten the amount of time spent by the schools on academic subjects.

According to local analysts, it is uncertain whether the General Assembly, controlled by Democrats, will override her veto.
KC's View:
We write this as a parent who has kids in Connecticut’s public schools.

We, and a lot of the parents who supported this legislation, weren’t looking for government and schools to absolve us of responsibility. In fact, we were trying to be more responsible by exercising influence over what is served in our schools – too often nutrition-free slop with only the barest resemblance to food. The governor also doesn’t seem to understand that many school districts lack the political will to do away with junk food and soda because they are getting paid fees by manufacturers.

Too bad that this bill appears to be dead. It is a shame.

By the way, if she’s really concerned about shortchanging academic subjects, maybe the school day or year needs to be lengthened…or maybe the teachers need to be paid more…or school districts ought to be required to invest in continuing education for their teachers.

(Full disclosure: We’re also married to a Connecticut public school teacher...albeit one who came to the profession late, having worked as a banker, a broker and then spent a decade at home raising children...)