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Wednesday’s Poll: Advertising in schools

A new law (HB 2332) goes into effect next month allowing permanent advertising on public school sports facilities, buses and web sites.

Each school district gets to keep any advertising money it garners and is not restricted on how it spends it.

Now the law only allows temporary advertising, such as banners hanging on outfield fences at baseball games, or off bleacher railings at football games.

There are some caveats, the ads can’t promote things that are illegal or inappropriate for children – smoking, drinking, sex, etc.

But there’s no caveat preventing ads for what teenagers do best – eating fatty fast food and drinking sugary drinks.

How long before we see ads onĀ  a teacher’s web page to the effect of, “This U.S. History homework assignment brought to you by Coca-Cola?”

Or a gymnasium floor with McDonald’s golden arches painted on it that chimes “I’m lovin’ it” every time the home team scores a basket?

I’m sure advertisers will be lining up to reach these captive audiences and state schools are so desperate for money, I’m certain that school boards will hold their noses and cash the checks.

But this has disaster written all over it. And lawsuit. Imagine what will happen when a church wants to buy a high school a new scoreboard in exchange for an ad on it. Or when a school board lets Pepsi have a web ad but not Red Bull. Or when a group of parents and students decides an ad for athletic shoes is abhorrent because the company manufactures its shoes in some Third World sweatshop?

Schools are not bereft of advertising or consumerism now, to be sure. School newspapers sell ads and yearbooks are chock full of them, likewise sports programs. And school children are constantly dunning parents and the community for money for their schools through the sale of Christmas wrapping, cookie dough, discount cards and so forth.

But this takes it even further. I think it’s a step too far. The Legislature in its zeal to find any revenue source other than taxes to pay for state programs is making a deal with the devil. And that’s never good.

What do you think?

Is selling advertising on public school web sites, buses and sports facilities a good idea?
Yes: 35%
No: 62%
I don't know: 2%
48 users voted
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