Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Sound Mind, Sound Body, Sound Profits

When Republicans get together to help the children, in Texas at least, you have to follow the money.

Why would state Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Lewisville) author a bill (SB 530) to mandate 30 minutes per day of exercise for middle and junior high school students? Is there a genuine concern for their health? Are middle schoolers getting too fat? That’s what Nelson, an ex-teacher ex-state school board member says.
"Anyone who has taught public school knows the old adage of 'sound body, sound mind' really is true. This generation of young people will live shorter lives than their parents unless we change the status quo. We've got to do this”
That sounds completely reasonable, doesn’t it?

Another quote from Nelson from the same article. Follow the money:
"By implementing these requirements and having a tool to measure how increased fitness levels affect learning, Texas is at the forefront of addressing the issue of childhood obesity."
There it is, “having a tool to measure . . .”. The tool, in this case is a piece of software written by one Kenneth Cooper, a Dallas-based “exercise researcher” called Fitnessgram. The program is in use in Austin schools, and is likely to be the program of choice for middle and junior high schools statewide. Why? Jeff Kloster, who is the Health and Safety commissioner at the TEA says “it will probably be chosen because it is the most widely used in Texas and one of the most highly recognized fitness assessment tools nationwide.”

Nelson’s bill provides no funding to purchase a site license for the software at every middle and junior high school in the state. Another one of those “we mandate it you fund it bills” that the legislature likes to foist on already strapped school district budgets.

While Cooper says he is willing to forgo any profits for his software ($260 per site license), he is also working on arranging for grants to pay the balance. Arranging for grants to line his pockets.

According to TEA records there are 1268 middle and junior high schools in Texas’ total of 9083 schools. That means a cool $329,680.00 in gross sales, with a net profit of $291,640.00. That’s not a bad combined return on investment.

Return on investment? Oh, did I mention that Cooper contributed a total of $12,000.00 to the campaigns of Nelson and Rick Perry? So this calculates out to a profit to investment ratio of 24.3. Oil wells are drilled with lower P/I ratios. This is a goldmine.

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