The day Gerber “Graduates” cheetos broke my computer

It all started 12 days ago with this image in the business section of the newspaper.

When I saw it, I knew I had to use it on my blog. Figuring out how it related to a timely education reform topic was secondary.

Yes, folks, that’s right. Baby cheetos. Gerber calls them “Graduates.”

That’s about as far as my thought processes had gotten when my computer decided that it could not process that or anything else, and it up and died.

So, I had a lot of time to think about Baby cheetos. I spent a lot of that time reading a lot of articles which I had printed out and stacked up to read “sometime.” I took handwritten notes.

And it didn’t take too long for me to read the sentence that made sense of Gerber Baby cheetos. It was in a 2009 masters’ thesis by Chandra Nerissa Larsen which reviewed President Obama’s early education policies and proposals as an example of neoliberalism. It’s a line she quotes from Henri Giroux that “neoliberalism capitalism performs the dual task of using education to train workers for service sector jobs and to produce life-long consumers” (emphasis added).

“Graduates” indeed.

A few days later, I actually saw a little bag of Gerber Baby cheetos hanging at the check-out line at Target. You know, in the “impulse buy” spot. Just to help the little ones start out early developing that all-American snacking habit.

And yes, reader, I did buy them. Just to taste them so you won’t have to. And yes, Baby Graduate cheetos taste just like grown up idiot drop out cheetos.

You see, for the neoliberals, or the corporate reformers, it’s not about quality, it’s about choice. Your choice of the c#@p they want to sell, that is.

What’s the connection to corporate school reform? Well, for example, when Catalyst asked how Chicago Public Schools justifies $76 million in increased funding to charter schools despite their lackluster performance and the district’s enormous deficit, spokeswoman Becky Carroll said that “our job is to not only help build high-quality schools, but expand the number of choices.”

It’s not really about quality, it’s about quantity and about selling the product.

And that may be good enough to produce junk food “graduates,” but not educated citizens.


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About the PURE Thoughts blogger
Julie Woestehoff is PURE's executive director. Julie's work has earned her a Ford Foundation award and recognition as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Chicago.