Education

Coca-Cola Lobbyist Leaves PTA Board

By Rhea R. Borja — October 19, 2004 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Critics of commercialism in schools are calling the resignation of a senior Coca-Cola Co. executive from the National PTA’s board of directors a step in the right direction.

The Chicago-based association—which has 6.5 million members, who are mostly parents and educators—has been the target of criticism for its partnership with Coca-Cola.

John H. Downs Sr.—the senior vice president of public affairs and the chief lobbyist for the Atlanta-based beverage giant—quietly resigned in May, more than a year before his two-year term was set to expire in June 2005, said Laura Battle, a PTA spokeswoman.

Mr. Downs sent a resignation letter to PTA President Linda Hodge saying that “increased responsibilities precluded him from serving his full two-year term,” said Laura Asman, a spokeswoman for Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc., the marketing, production, and distribution arm of Coca-Cola.

His PTA board tenure had sparked sharp criticism from some parents, educators and anti-commercialism activists. They said it was a conflict of interest for an organization that prides its role as an advocate for children’s education and health to have on its board the chief lobbyist of a company that markets sugary drinks to children, especially in an era of rising concern about childhood obesity.

“The alliance between Coke and the PTA was a tremendous black eye for both organizations,” said Gary Ruskin, the executive director of Commercial Alert, a Portland, Ore.- based watchdog group, which learned this month of Mr. Downs’ resignation. “There was a lot of media attention, so they cut their losses.”

But Ms. Asman denied that such criticism was a factor in Mr. Downs’ departure.

“He just wasn’t able to fulfill his obligations,” she said. “It’s as simple as that.”

Though Mr. Downs has stepped down, Coca-Cola remains a sponsor of a National PTA program to improve parent involvement in schools.

About 4 percent of the PTA’s $12 million annual budget comes from corporate sponsorships.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Achievement Webinar
How To Tackle The Biggest Hurdles To Effective Tutoring
Learn how districts overcome the three biggest challenges to implementing high-impact tutoring with fidelity: time, talent, and funding.
Content provided by Saga Education
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Reframing Behavior: Neuroscience-Based Practices for Positive Support
Reframing Behavior helps teachers see the “why” of behavior through a neuroscience lens and provides practices that fit into a school day.
Content provided by Crisis Prevention Institute
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Mathematics Webinar
Math for All: Strategies for Inclusive Instruction and Student Success
Looking for ways to make math matter for all your students? Gain strategies that help them make the connection as well as the grade.
Content provided by NMSI

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated: March 20, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: March 13, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
9 min read
Education Briefly Stated: February 21, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: February 7, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read