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Letter: Breakfast program's not success, but failure, he says

TO THE EDITOR: I received an e-mail from Sen. Herb Kohl, quoting the Child Nutrition Foundation "more than half of the children go to school without having breakfast on any given day."

He lauds the success of the School Breakfast Program as "critical to maintaining the health and well-being of children who are eligible for free or reduced price meals" and how "Hungry children are unable to concentrate and achieve-" under these circumstances.

I wrote back, "...If 50 percent of the children are not getting a basic staple such as a breakfast at home, it makes me wonder what other meals and basic staples of life they are going without. Our schools are not the institution that should be carrying the responsibilities of families and human service agencies, and 'yes' political institutions of our society. The schools are being asked to take on responsibilities they are not well suited for. As such, the schools' personnel material and financial resources have been so diluted and strained they are unable to adequately carry out their primary mission of educating our youth. Nationwide, schools are being blamed for failure, where in fact the institutions failing are our basic democratic social and political institutions intended to insure individual, social, political, spiritual, economic environment for the many to flourish rather than the few who are of special interest.

The circumstance you describe isn't a success, but a failure. It is a terrible indictment of the state of our economy, and opportunity and distribution of our wealth. It suggests there is something fundamentally wrong in a society, in a culture that such conditions exist. It suggests the 'haves' have way beyond what they need and the 'have-nots' are in dire straits.

Sen. Kohl, what positions are you taking to change the present state of affairs?