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Schoolbus Advertisements: Are Schools Selling Out? (page 2)

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Updated on Mar 30, 2012

Here are several possible approaches that Golin gives to this question, which is essential to understanding the controversy behind school advertising:

1)      Kids can always turn off the television or leave the computer, but they don’t have that choice in school. After all, legally they have to be in school. “They’re exploiting a captive audience of students,” says Golin. “Exposure to commercial messages becomes compulsory.”

2)      Yes, kids are exposed to advertisements everywhere – but that doesn’t make them any less effective. “Students need some time where there aren’t these tremendous commercial pressures on them, where they can trust and feel comfortable that these messages are what’s best for them, not what’s best for a sponsor,” Golin maintains.

3)      You can’t underestimate the power of an advertisement in the school setting, since it implicitly has the school’s endorsement. “If you’re telling kids that everything they hear in school is important and carefully selected for their development, that concept is transferred to the advertisement,” says Golin. “It’s a powerful endorsement.”

4)      Educating our children by teaching them various skills and ideas is good for both the children and for society as a whole.  “Part of what we’re supposed to be doing in schools is to teach kids how to think critically. What advertising does to kids is the opposite: it encourages consumption, brand loyalty, and the concept that if we receive certain things we will be “cool” and happy. These ads undermine the education process.”

What Parents Can Do

These decisions to introduce advertising in the schools are often made without significant notice to parents or others who might oppose them. When the decision to open the school to advertising is actually publicized, the result is usually a significant public outcry, as well as many concerned parents.

But what can you do to prevent advertising in your child’s school? Here are some ideas that Golin suggests:

·         Reach out to the school and find out if they currently have any advertisements within the school. If they don’t, make sure not to stop there!

·         Even if the school does not currently have any advertisements, let the school know that there is a concern about them. This alone can prevent advertisers from eventually convincing the school to offer them ad space.

·         Find out whether the school has a policy on advertisements. If they don’t, bring it up as a possible addition to their policies.

·         If you find that there are advertisements currently in the school, contact the board and the superintendent to raise your concerns.

·         Talk to other parents and organize around the issue of advertisements in school. Get as much information as you can about existing ads – any details of the ads, how much money they are securing for the school, and how your group can raise the same amount of money without selling school advertisements. Then present your ideas to the board, staying as unemotional about the issue as possible, and focusing on the bottom line.

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