Friday, July 3, 2009

The Terribly Misguided Representative Cynthia Davis

Cynthia Davis is the 49 year old Republican state representative from St. Charles County, Missouri. In recent statements regarding the children's nutrition program that provides food during the summer for thousands of low-income Missouri children who rely on the school cafeteria for free or reduced-price meals during the regular school year, Cynthia opposed program stating, "Hunger can be a powerful motivator."

Seriously? A powerful motivator? For my first four years of teaching I taught at a school in one of the lowest socio-economic areas of southwest Missouri. Many of these were hungry children. Not kids who missed a snack or skipped breakfast, but really, really hungry kids. I had a child come to me in tears the day before Christmas break because the school wouldn't be open for lunch over the two week vacation. This school is a part of the summer nutrition program and children and it is very important for this community. When I taught summer school kids were lined up down the hallways for their free lunches.

If this program were cut, hunger would not be motivating to any of these children. It is not their fault they were born into poverty. They are not able to work or to pay for their own meals, although several of them might steal from the local convenience store between meals. Hunger is not a positive motivator. Hunger is not motivating these children to do more with their lives. Hungry children cannot see past the next day. They are worried about where their dinner will come from or how many hours it would be until they come back to school for another warm meal.

To avoid taking her words out of context, here is more of her statement. Complete, it is even more vile.

"Who’s buying dinner? Who is getting paid to serve the meal? Churches and other non-profits can do this at no cost to the taxpayer if it is warranted. [...] Bigger governmental programs take away our connectedness to the human family, our brotherhood and our need for one another. [...] Anyone under 18 can be eligible? Can’t they get a job during the summer by the time they are 16? Hunger can be a positive motivator. What is wrong with the idea of getting a job so you can get better meals? Tip: If you work for McDonald’s, they will feed you for free during your break. [...] It really is all about increasing government spending, which means an increase in taxes for us to buy more free lunches and breakfasts."

One in five children in Missouri are currently living with hunger. When I look at Ben, I can't imagine him worrying about not having enough food. It absolutely breaks my heart to think that 20% of Missouri's children are worried about that. I think that providing these children with lunch an extra three months out of the year is the very least we can do. Truly, the very least.

From the KC Star:

Taking apart Davis’ other arguments, a St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial noted that most of the summer feeding program sites are actually hosted by churches and that the program, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, fed 3.7 million meals at a total cost of less than $9.5 million last summer — “a pretty good use of federal money.”

Keith Olberman twice dubbed her the "Worst Person in the World" this week, first for her original statement, and again for her rebuttal, which was just as insulting. Stephen Colbert also featured her on his "Tip of the Hat, Wag of the Finger" segment this week. How embarrassing for our state.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Tip/Wag - Cynthia Davis & Fox News
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorJeff Goldblum

To top it all off, she is the chairman for the Missouri House Special Standing Committee on Children and Families. Democrat House Minority Leader Paul LeVota has asked the Republican House Speaker Ron Richard to remove Davis from this position. I am writing Ron Richard a letter to do the same in addition to a letter to Paul LeVota in support of this action.

After some consideration, I also contacted Cynthia Davis. I am not interested in wasting my time writing angry letters to people I disagree with. Instead, I expressed a compassionate view of my experience working with impoverished children and urged her to reconsider the program in a different light and not push for the summer nutrition program to be cut.

I will be sure to update everyone if I hear back from any of these three representatives.

Please join me in writing Speaker Ron Richard and your own representative to express your thoughts supporting the summer nutrition program for children and encouraging the house to remove Cynthia Davis from her chairman position. It truly is the very least we can do to help Missouri's children.

*Other side notes:
:: McDonald's does not provide free meals for their employees.

:: Davis has reached her term limit and her husband will be running in her seat in the 2010 election against Matt Simmons. I know she is from an affluent community and I hope they see the error in her statements and do not elect her husband for more of the same.


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