Saturday, March 20, 2010

AP: Could school bus ads save school budgets?

An Associated Press story:

SEATTLE – School distrits have imposed all sorts of drastic cuts to save money during the down economy, canceling field trips and making parents pay for everything from tissues to sports transportation.

And some have now resorted to placing advertisements on school buses.

School districts say it's practically free money, and advertisers love the captive audience that school buses provide.

That's the problem, say opponents: Children are being forced to travel to school on moving media kiosks, and the tactic isn't much different than dressing teachers in sponsor-emblazoned uniforms.

"Parents who are concerned about commercial messages will have no choice," said Josh Golin, associate director of Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood. "Parents won't be given the option to send their kids on the ad-free bus."

Washington lawmakers considered the idea of school bus advertising this year, and the concept is also being tossed around in Ohio, New Jersey and Utah. About half a dozen states already allow bus advertising — including Colorado, Arizona, Florida, Minnesota, Tennessee and Texas.

The idea can be traced back about 15 years, but budget woes have led to a recent resurgence.

"This issue comes up on a regular basis when funding gets tight and people are looking for alternative ways to fund school transportation," said John Green, supervisor for school transportation at the California Department of Education.

Green has a long list of reasons California has not sold ads on its school buses, despite the regular onslaught of creative parents and lawmakers who suggest the idea to him and other state officials.

Read the full story

20 comments:

  1. I suppose it was inevitable, wasn't it? Maybe we could just rename the schools, too. Forget those historical figures: Malcolm X Academy could become Petco Academy. James Lick Middle School can be Monster.com Jr. High. Gallileo High can become Miller Genuine High (heh heh).

    Why can't the effing corporations just support the transportation system without pimping up the buses? Is that so much to ask given all they get out of Prop 13 in this state? Don't they actually want to be able to hire an educated California workforce? Whatever happened to the Carnegie philosophy of supporting the public good?

    Why do I ask these idiotic, naive questions?

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  2. Oh, oops, it's not California. Sorry about that -- but I hope we figure out a better way.

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  3. How about pay tuition instead.

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  4. My husband jokes about starting a Charter School of Fundraising and Standardized Testing.

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  5. I fail to see what harm advertising on school buses could cause if it means that, for example, fewer teachers are laid off. My goodness, who really cares about them? You all are just so pure. It's not like kids aren't subjected to advertising on a constant basis already. And on the issue of naming schools, do you think it is an accident that Dianne Feinstein got named as it did? AP Giannini continues to get money from the BofA's founder's family. Those schools know they have a dedicated source of funding. I'm at a school named for a now fast-fading person -- don't think we in the PTA haven't thought about trying to get it renamed for someone famous as a way to get some money. We've considered Tom Lantos and even Ted Kennedy.

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  6. 8:17, I imagine that once parents start coming to terms with what class sizes of 24-30 will mean as far as their children getting any amount of individual attention from their teachers, their attitudes towards alternative funding sources like ads on buses will loosen up considerably.

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  7. It's not the kind of money that's going to save teachers' jobs. Moreover, it's delivering a captive and impressionable audience to advertisers - the continuing privatization of what is, in theory, a public enterprise.

    The fact that children face constant advertising does not mean it's okay to increase that amount. Nor is this necessarily the same as the Giannini family offering funding to Giannini - unless that funding requires veneration of the school's namesake, can only be used for BofA-approved materials, or requires that the school take a Texas-style social studies standards view of capitalism.

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  8. I would love it if those avocado ads were on the school buses; those ads were great :) Other than that, though, no, I don't think it's worth compromising our principles in the face of economic hardship. It is in times of adversity that our character is tested, and I think we can find better funding sources than school bus ads. And yes, I know that this article was not yet about California.

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  9. Are there even going to be very many school buses around in SFUSD anymore? By how much is the transportation budget getting cut in the next few years? So the ads on school buses issue will not apply to SF, because SF will not even have very many school buses.

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  10. My husband jokes that school parents should selling naming rights - for the kids - little Charles Schwab, Target, Mickey D, Mollie Stone. In return, the corpations can pay the kids' education costs through college (ha, ha).

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  11. How about auctioning off k assignments to trophy schools (hey if they're all THAT, why not)? Some families who are opting to go private/independent unless they get their top public choices may find such a seat worth -- oh, I don't know -- $50K? Seems like a bargain compared to the long term investment of privates.

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  12. I'm sure there is a public school out there that would be happy to take advertiser dollars in exchange for a teacher. I would.

    Anyone get assigned to Junipero Serra or Cesar Chavez or John Muir? They could use some money.

    It's a sad state of affairs that it's come to this, the only difference between a Miraloma and a Junipero Serra is how much money the PTA can raise. How lame is that?

    It's a shame that we even have to have this discussion, but since we do, let's take the money. Finally advertising dollars can go somewhere worthwhile.

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  13. 7:37
    That idea is sickening.

    Your kid can only go to a "trophy" school if your parents can BUY you a seat?

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  14. FYI, the Board has a pretty strongly-worded policy against advertising in our schools. It was passed around 2001 and it was primarily aimed at keeping food advertisers out of schools (e.g. Pepsi sponsoring athletic events) but is broad enough to apply to ads on school buses and the like.

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  15. Hi, Rachel, since you were good enough to comment, could I ask you about the issue of renaming schools? Our school (which I will not name) has a fast-fading name attached to it that is not someone with significant historical importance or that is neighborhood-specific. We have wondered how receptive the Board would be to an effort to rename the school for a more important historical figure who has recently passed away, such as Ted Kennedy, one of the great supporters of civil rights and education for all, or Tom Lantos, a Holocaust survivor who championed human rights. And, yes, part of the reason for doing this is that, hopefully, it will engender folks interested in that person to contribute to the school. How favorably do you think the Board would look on an idea like that? Assuming that the school community wants to do it, is it something that the District would view favorably?

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  16. 10:46 - generally name changes originate with the Superintendent's office and not the Board (one recent and notable exception was our decision to rename School of the Arts for artist and arts advocate Ruth Asawa). The problem with renaming a school that is already named for a person is that it is kind of a diss -- depends a lot on who the person is/was and whether they have living relatives in the area, etc. If you would like to email me your idea offline at my school district address - rachelnorton@sfusd.edu - I will get the request in front of someone who can respond to the suggestion.

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  17. Thanks, Rachel. I'm going to talk to my PTA and get back to you.

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  18. Thanks, Rachel. I'm going to talk to my PTA and get back to you.

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  19. Herbert Hoover Middle School would be a good candidate for a name change, I think. He was the corporatist GOP president best known for policies that pushed the country over the edge into the Great Depression and then made it immediately worse. He is remembered as well for the "Hoovervilles"--shantytowns that sprang up. Fortunately his presidency led to Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Must been funny when Hoover and Roosevelt schools meet (not sure if our Roosevelt MS is named for Teddy, another Republican, but an anti-trust one, or FDR....). Funny too that another of our well-known middle schools is named for a banker, A.P. Giannini--but at least he was local. Anyway, I don't think Hoover represents the best of SF values.

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  20. This is a dumb idea, in that the funds raised are going to be far short of the budget gap.

    I'm tired of budget gimmicks, and long for a political culture where we decide taxes are a price of living in a civilized society, and that ponying up for education is a worthwhile investment in our future.

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