A remarkable contrast appeared in the Aug. 15 Roundup.
The paper did a feature story on a vivacious group of Christian adults at the local United Methodist Church who meet every week to bag weekend lunches for 65 students who may not have enough to eat before they get back to school.
It is just another remarkable story repeated so often in our wonderful region of local citizens opening their hearts and hands to help out when the need arises; in this case, making sure that children in poverty get enough to eat when they are not in school.
The same issue of the Roundup carried the bitter comments made by a local school board member, Shirley Dye, regarding children who come to school hungry or without ability to pay for lunch. Because of their poverty status, these children are entitled to benefit from the federally funded school lunch program which produces substantial improvement in academic performance.
Ms. Dye went into a tirade against the food for children program because she believes that it somehow absolves parents of their responsibilities. She has no sympathy for parents who are at or near poverty and who are so frequently unable to provide nutritious meals for their children. She is determined to punish them mercilessly.
So she decided that the best way to deal with this problem is to take the food away from the children: she voted against renewing the program for Payson area school children.
Now, this is a school board member who supposedly represents the heart of our community and supposedly has the wisdom to guide school administration for the education and welfare of our children.
It should be noted that Ms. Dye often chairs meetings of the local Tea Party and always starts the meetings with a prayer. And she supports another Tea Party member for an opening on the school board.
It is difficult to understand such a mean-spirited action against the children not only because we already pay for the food program through our taxes, but also because it is such a proven way to enable disadvantaged children to succeed in school. Some 70 percent of children in our district are eligible for the program.
Ms. Dye is intent on punishing the parents who are in poverty, blaming them for their situation, as if people choose to be poor or to have illnesses or to be trapped by other complex problems.
For those who do know her, Ms. Dye is a lovely person. But behind that appearance, at least in this instance, there lurked a mean-spirited, vengeful attitude that demonstrated a lack of concern for children and a dangerous and ideological self-righteousness that threatens the well-being of our children and of our educational system.
Are those the characteristics of people we want serving on our school board or other public offices?
It’s voting season, folks. Think deeply about the significance of your vote.