Here’s where I draw the line!
USA Today reports, that a San Diego teacher faced with budget cuts has allowed local businesses to advertise on his tests.
Tom Farber gives a lot of tests. He’s a calculus teacher, after all.
So when administrators at Rancho Bernardo, his suburban San Diego high school, announced the district was cutting spending on supplies by nearly a third, Farber had a problem. At 3 cents a page, his tests would cost more than $500 a year. His copying budget: $316. But he wanted to give students enough practice for the big tests they’ll face in the spring, such as the Advanced Placement exam.
“Tough times call for tough actions,” he says. So he started selling ads on his test papers: $10 for a quiz, $20 for a chapter test, $30 for a semester final.
The article is quick to point out that most of the ads are inspirational ones from parents, though some are from local businesses, the sort of ad you’d see on your daughter’s soccer team jersey.
Principal Paul Robinson says reaction has been “mixed,” but he notes, “It’s not like, ‘This test is brought to you by McDonald’s or Nike.’ “
To that I would say…not yet. Once the cat is let out of the bag, who knows who will be advertising on children’s tests.
That worries Robert Weissman, managing director of Commercial Alert, a Washington-based non-profit that fights commercialization in school and elsewhere. If test-papers-as-billboards catches on, he says, schools in the grip of tough economic times could start relying on them to help the bottom line.
It comes down to budget cuts. Teachers already spend money for out of pocket expenses. In suburban schools, parents chip in. But, where this really hurts our education system is in the poorer school districts.
If selling ads on tests catches on, where do you think poorer urban schools will go to get money? And who will rush to advertise in them – fast food outlets, contributing to poor eating habits; hip clothing outlets reinforcing notions that it’s what you wear not who you are…the list goes on.
I’ve been in marketing for many years and have spent quite a bit of my career marketing to children, but I find this well-intentioned gesture by a caring teacher leading us down a slippery slope where we’re allowing large corporations to educate our children…and then complain that our workforce is undereducated!
This needs to stop. Now.
Photo Credit : dongkwan at Flickr Under Creative Commons License