Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Calamities Possibly Averted! Digital TV and APS Cheese

With the steely eye of Death almost at hand, the small, furry creature known as Analog Television may perhaps be saved by brave Congresspeople and a new President with bold ideas that evidently include saving small, supposedly outdated entertainment options. Much has been made about the "Switch to Digital", 99.9993% of the buzz created by television stations/networks themselves. How many informational crawls along screen bottoms, funny if somewhat age-offensive YouTube videos, special news bulletins and doomsday-sized countdown clocks have we been subjected to in recent months/years?

I can't say I watch much TV myself (that would take time away from my Internet addiction), but in all the informational Hellfire and doomsday clock madness trying to scare Americans into action on this vital point, here's one campaign I haven't seen employed by anyone:

"The Switch To Digital: Maybe This is A Good Time To Consider That You Watch Too Much &*$@*&! Television!"

Instead, the campaigns by the very media conglomerates and TV manufacturers standing to make tons of money while filling up even more of the landfills in the process have seemed to imply some sort of patriotic duty is involved. Or that by missing out on Digital, Analog America will be deprived of some Constitutionally-protected right/obligation to be entertained at the highest resolution possible. You'd think we were talking sugar and gasoline rations during World War II here, or at least "Victory Gardens".

Now Congress seems ready to extend the countdown clock in what must surely be the most important piece of legislation in the history of the Republic. Praise the Cathode Ray and pass the Digital ammunition! May the holy, very sharp light of HDTV shine on us all?

Otherwise, what are we all going to do (and live for) in our Great Depression II unemployment.

Maybe he who controls the spice really does rule the world...


Or perhaps he who controls the cheese rules the cafeteria. In its continuing effort to recoup .0000127% of its annual operating budget, the Albuquerque Public Schools has decided to maintain the policy in which deadbeat parents will have their kids subjected to the extortion of cold cheese sandwiches until they (the parents) start paying up for lunch. So far, the program has recouped $42,000 in lunch debts and cost approximately $47.3 trillion in public relation dollars.

Taking off the satire/sarcasm hat for a second, I am glad to read that the program has also led to an thirteen-hundred student increase in those perceived eligible for free/reduced lunch. At the same time, it baffles me as to why the District doesn't use this brouhaha as an opportunity to revise the entire way meals are delivered in the District.

Nobody likes the current state of cafeteria affairs. Let me repeat that: NOBODY LIKES WHAT IS HAPPENING!

APS is serving poorly-constructed, unhealthy, visually unattractive to the point of nausea meals on old-school Styrofoam trays to students whose only other option (other than bringing their lunch) is paying airport prices for terribly unhealthy junk food via the "snack bar".

Moreover, the District is, quite obviously, making a killing off the "snack bar" profits ($2.00 for a .40 cent piece of pizza?), profits which are further maximized by having such lousy APS "line" meals. Any kid who can rub two dollar bills together is going to go for the "snack bar" and avoid "the line" like the Styrofoam plague it is.

Why not totally revamp APS meals and the APS Food Services now? A few ideas to start:
  • Meals should be created on-site
  • Lose the Styrofoam and get some real plates/utensils
  • Dump the snack bar
  • Make all the meals "free", using a college dormitory cafeteria system instead
Now all those things cost money, probably lots of it. So how about:
  • Changing the half-ass way schools have students fill out "free/reduced lunch" forms. Make them do it in class.
  • Tell parents that the new, revamped cafeteria is paid for with these federal dollars.
  • Make the completion of this process a bigger deal than some shameful form filled out while registering their kid.
  • At the same time, work to eliminate the entire "free/reduced lunch" idea. Pressure the State & Federal Government to see that lunch is a required part of the school day, like textbooks and maps on the classroom walls.
  • Take some of the money devoted to incessantly testing our students and put it into the student mouths so they can be better equipped to study, learn, thrive in school.
  • Take private donations from school parents and local businesses to help provide quality meals at public schools.
  • Make it a five-year goal to eliminate the presence of any cash registers and "free/reduced lunch code readers" in APS schools.
Just like an army, it seems to me that a student body marches on its stomach. Right now we're starving the army and it shows. The best evidence of this comes during the annual Standardized Testing Gala. On test days schools make a gigantic deal about providing juice and animal crackers to students during breaks in the testing. The purchase and distribution of these short-term energy bursts is treated with the same logistical planning as Napoleon leading the French army through Italy. It is highly choreographed and the ingestion of carefully purchased carbohydrates considered essential.

The other, non-testing, days...who cares. The delivery and ingestion of food by students is considered with the same avoidance of thought given to trips to the laundromat or MVD. We know it's a sorry state of affairs. Nobody likes it. NOBODY. So we try not to think about it until TESTING TIME rolls around and it's time to go buy 75 cases of those little orange juice boxes and a truckload of animal crackers.

There's got to be a better way. Now is the time to do it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The free and reduced lunch forms are how the Title 1 allocation is determined. It's not much about lunch