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Should schools accept corporate advertising and sponsorships?


In an ideal world, schools would have all the money they need to fund programs and buy equipment, but we’re not living in Utopia. Public and private colleges accept money from plutocrats every day. I’m not very happy that our gym is named for Shop Rite, the local supermarket, but I do think that public schools should accept well-meaning contributions from the community, and businesses are an important part of the community. I believe that we can’t educate our children without the efforts of everyone.

Shop Rite has been very kind to our school. They allow our special education students to intern at the store, and they donate food for needy families when we ask them. The store never attempts to push any curriculum ideas on us; they don’t require us to do business with them. The management has been enormously supportive over many years. They have also pledged $100,000 over a 20-year period. In return, we have their name and a shopping cart logo on our new gymnasium.

I have mixed feelings about this. The sign smacks of advertising and commercialism. This neighborhood store, one of a small chain, is owned by members of the Brown family, and I would prefer having their name on the gym. Another generous local business family gave us money for library books in honor of their parents. I am quite happy to say our new library is called the Flowers Media Center. 

Kathleen McMahon teaches fourth grade at Alice Costello School in Brooklawn, New Jersey.



It is unacceptable that in the richest and most powerful country in the world,
a public school should lack the resources necessary to educate its children. A free, quality public education must be one of a democracy’s top priorities, and it must be immune to any market-driven force. We, as a nation, must unite and rally for well-funded schools for all. Our children deserve nothing less. Allowing advertising in our schools opens a Pandora’s box. We must resist selling out our schools to the highest bidder.

The idea that advertisers would take advantage of the financially beleaguered conditions of many of our public schools should come as no surprise. Advertising is a market-driven enterprise, and schools represent an untapped market potential. Upon entering our schools, the advertisers would dictate the placement of their billboards, banners, and lightboxes. The highly visible areas normally reserved for students’ artwork, bulletin boards, and school/community message centers would be taken over. It would only be a matter of time before advertisers would attempt to have a hand in the curriculum, molding a school into a corporate image. 

Studies show that Americans are subjected to thousands of commercial images every day. There are already more than enough forces vying for our children’s attention. Schools must remain sacred spaces whose sole purpose is the education of our youth, not the manipulated development of product loyalty.  

Manny Lopez teaches fourth grade at the International Community School in Oakland, California.

Other Voices

I think it would be very dangerous for public education if we allowed corporate sponsorship of schools....The federal government wants to stop paying for education, and I believe it’s all part of the plan to privatize public education.
Diane Yglesias, Plainfield High School, Plainfield, New Jersey  

Several years ago when my son was playing football for our rural high school, the team traveled to the Atlanta metro area for a game. When we entered the stadium, there were signs advertising Delta Airlines....this type of sponsorship... creates an unfair advantage for one school within a district. It also gives students a warped sense of the world. They think everything is up for sale—ethics, morals, children.
Elizabeth Gould, retired teacher from Chatsworth, Georgia.

The argument that children are brand sensitive is, of course, true. But…they are already walking, talking billboards who are exposed to countless advertising images on a daily basis....Corporate sponsorship already exists in every school, anyway....The fact is, education is in dire straights. Why not tap into the resources of the wealthiest aspects of our commerce-driven society to help the kids?
Ross Greiner, Frederick High School, Frederick, Colorado.




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