In a country in which school budget cuts have cost districts everything from paper to teachers to entire programs, fundraising efforts need to go a lot further than local bake sales.
In an effort to boost revenue for New Jersey school districts, Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill into law in January that would allow advertisements on school buses. Half of all revenue generated will be used by to offset transportation costs, while the other half will be spent at the discretion of the Board of Education. The bill’s sponsors called it “an easy way for schools to generate additional revenue to help keep programs running.”
While ads promoting alcohol, tobacco, and political advocacy are prohibited and the ads are technically targeted to passing motorists (not the kids themselves), the whole idea of monetizing school buses doesn’t sit well with everyone. And one town’s proposal to allow ads at the school track and sell naming rights to libraries, cafeterias and classrooms has some up in arms. An editorial published on nj.com voices concerns about the messages such ads might send to children:
“That, we believe, goes too far…some forms of advertising have always been around in schools, from booster ads in the high school yearbook to signs around the sports fields.
Opening up schools to a clutter of mixed messages – for instance, an energy-drink sponsor in a classroom where health is taught – seems like a slippery slope.
Schools…should be off limits to those pitching products or services to students.”
As teachers ourselves, we’re deeply saddened it has come to this, but can see both sides of the argument. So, readers, we want to hear from you on this one: