"Won't Back Down" Film Pushes ALEC Parent Trigger Proposal

-- by Mary Bottari and Sara Jerving

Well-funded advocates of privatizing the nation's education system are employing a new strategy this fall to enlist support for the cause. The emotionally engaging Hollywood film "Won't Back Down" -- set for release September 28 -- portrays so-called "Parent Trigger" laws as an effective mechanism for transforming underperforming public schools. But the film's distortion of the facts prompts a closer examination of its funders and backers and a closer look at those promoting Parent Trigger as a cure for what ails the American education system.

USDA to Serve Kids More "Pink Slime"

Pink SlimeA product made by grinding up connective tissue from cows and beef scraps that used to be made into dog food is too disgusting to serve at McDonald's, Burger King or Taco Bell, which have all dropped it due to public pressure, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) thinks it's fine to serve in school lunches. The USDA plans to buy seven million pounds of the "Lean Finely Textured Beef" (LFTB) from Beef Products Inc. (BPI) and serve it to school children this spring.

Nebraska Court Rules "Alcopops" Should be Taxed as Liquor

Smirnoff Ice Wild GrapeFlavored alcoholic beverages like Smirnoff Ice and Mike's Hard Lemonade -- dubbed "alcopops" by public health advocates -- should be taxed at the higher rate of distilled spirits rather than as beer, according to the Nebraska Supreme Court. The lawsuit, Project Extra Mile v. Nebraska Liquor Control Comm., was brought by Nebraska taxpayers and nonprofit groups battling underage drinking. Now the Nebraska legislature is considering a bill, LB824, that would undo the state Supreme Court's decision.

Wisconsin Education Reform Only ALEC Could Love

After months of talking about "reforming" Wisconsin's public schools, Republican state legislators are starting to move on a number of proposals. The greatly anticipated bills bear the marks of having been poured through the filter of the American Legislative Exchange Council's agenda for school reform before they were exposed to the light of day.

ALEC Exposed - A project of CMDThis week, for instance, there is a hearing on a voucher bill for special needs children that appears to be modeled on the ALEC Special Needs Scholarship Program Act. Other measures are in the works to hold teachers "accountable" for the performance of their students, but not at voucher schools of the type supported by ALEC.

"Horror Hotel": The New Frontier of Junk Food Marketing to Kids

626 Horror HotelToday's teenagers are probably the most savvy generation yet when it comes to filtering out advertising, but that is no worry for junk food and drink companies who steadily deploy stealthier and more sophisticated interactive promotions that specifically target teens and exploit their emotional and developmental vulnerabilities. The newest generation of internet-based junk food promotions uses cutting edge marketing techniques with names like "augmented reality," "virtual environments" and "neuromarketing" -- the use of scientifically-devised digital marketing techniques that trigger teens' subconscious emotional arousal.

Children Gardening in Sewage Sludge: Los Angeles Schools Alerted

Emmanuelle Chriqui gardening with kids at Carson Senior High School, with an empty bag of Kellogg sludge productThis week, CMD's new Food Rights Network sent letters to thirteen schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) that have "organic" school gardens adopted by Hollywood's Environmental Media Association (EMA). As we reported in May, EMA teamed up with sludge-marketing corporation Kellogg Garden Products, which sells products made from Los Angeles area industrial and human sewage sludge with the label "quality organics" and which used the gardens for photo ops with sludge products.

Gardens in which kids grow vegetables and fruits were contaminated with sewage sludge as a result of EMA's partnership with Kellogg, which donated hundreds of cubic yards of sewage sludge products. EMA, which hosts its annual green carpet awards this Saturday, October 15th, has failed to take any steps to help remediate the children's "organic" gardens that were sludged.


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