Philadelphia is considering a bill proposal which would allows advertising on school property. Consumer advocacy group Public Citizen submitted testimony to The Philadelphia City council today condemning advertising in schools for two big reasons: It's detrimental to education and a paltry source of extra revenue.
“Commercial advertising undermines the fundamental mission of schools to empower children to think independently and develop problem solving skills,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. “Children are already surrounded by near-constant advertising that promotes materialism. But the ubiquity of commercialism is not a reason for allowing school advertising – it is a reason why children need a sanctuary where they can focus on learning,” he added.
Schools that are hurting for money thought revenue from advertising would become a cash cow. Hardly. In a report from last year, entitled "School Commercialism: high Costs, Low Revenues," Public Citizen surveyed the 25 largest school districts. No advertising program reported raiding more than .03% in revenue.
What's worse, some private agencies who act as middlemen between school district and advertiser, are skimming 20-50% off the top, according to the findings.
We applaud Public Citizen because we take the same stance. Advertising has no business in schools. All the things we want to protect our kids from (sex, violence, junk food, unreasonable standards for beauty) are found in ads on a daily basis.
There's a school down the street from me that was built by an oil company. The entire school feels like it's one big ad for that oil company. You can argue that the oil company did a good thing in building the school (and it's a pretty good one) but I still take issue with it, just as I took issue with the fact Coke donated a score board to my high school-- complete with the big red coke logo, of course.
Is that really worth .03% in revenue?
What's worse is the fact the school districts hide behind "the children," when in fact we know the revenue they keep desperately searching for is only going to go to "the pensions."
In Los Angeles where I live, the majority of schools in the L.A. Unified District are so horrible that one has to pay the equivalent of an Ivy League college tuition just to send a child to a proper high school where they might actually learn something. Either that or live in or or two neighborhoods were the schools aren't completely awful.
But it's not because enough money isn't being thrown at the school district. No, the problem is the money is being thrown into the already bloated pensions of underperforming teachers and the kids never see it.
I wish a public policy group like Public Citizen would get on that issue, too, as it's a much bigger deal in my opinion.