Open Mike

Sunnyside School Board missed class on this one

It is not often that I disagree with the actions of the Sunnyside School Board. But in this case, I can't condone the steps being taken by the fine people who are in charge of educating our children.

The Sunnyside School Board recently decided to pursue the matter of trying to get rid of or reduce alcohol and tobacco advertising at grocery stores that sit adjacent to public school facilities.

The school board is in charge of making decisions about the education of our community's children. They are not in charge of trying to dictate policy within the city. The school board is not charged with trying to champion a cause that in very many ways is none of its business.

Alcohol and tobacco are both deadly in what they can do to people. We've all heard about too many alcohol related deaths. We've seen what happens to people who have been smoking for years. We all know too well the dangers of drinking and smoking. But alcohol and tobacco products remain two of the most advertised and consumed products in the world.

The advertising of tobacco and alcohol related products will never go away and the Sunnyside School Board should be spending all of its time on matters of educating our children. The board shouldn't be trying its hand at community politics.

The school board has a valid concern. But in all honesty, the students attending school probably spend less time worrying about what kind of alcohol and tobacco sales are posted on banners than they do talking about who is dating whom are what happened at school on a certain day.

Children are a lot smarter nowadays than they were when I was in school. Children have a lot more activities to keep them away from drugs and alcohol now than when many of us were in school.

I kind of feel that the school board is underestimating the intellectual capacity of our youth to make the right decisions if they are given all of the information on a particular subject. There are many circumstances where I would pick a youngster to make the right decision over a grown adult, but I guess I just have too much faith in the youth of today.

And I also feel that the school board is underestimating or undermining the role of the parents in this issue. In the end, this all boils down to good parenting. It is parents who must provide their children with the ability to make the right decisions. Consuming alcohol or smoking falls into that category.

The Sunnyside School Board did get the support of Sunnyside's Promise in getting the Sunnyside City Council to address the issue of trying to get rid of alcohol and tobacco advertising at grocery stores. But Sunnyside's Promise should be investing its time and effort in educating children on the harm of alcohol and tobacco use, instead of jumping on the bandwagon in trying to dictate standards to the community. Children will benefit more if they are educated about the harms of both substances. That is where the focus should be by these well intentioned groups.

Not to leave the Sunnyside City Council out of the issue, I like the direction Council is taking with looking at implementing a sign ordinance that helps regulate such advertising. The Council is looking at the issue from more of an aesthetics point of view than trying to lay the hammer down on businesses. But I don't agree with the Council voicing its support of a proposal from Sunnyside's Promise to help rid the city of alcohol and tobacco advertising. Stick with your sign ordinance, Council members. The next thing that is going to happen is we are all going to have to paint our houses the same color.

These entities should be spending their time educating, trying to make the community better for our children in other ways than trying to lay down an iron hand. I would much rather give a hand to educate someone than to dictate to someone.

While the intentions of these entities are good at heart, this boils down to nothing more than the power people in the community trying to tell the rest of us what they think is best for us. Trust us and the youth of our community and we will show that same appreciation and trust back.



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