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
Shirley Hudson says
I agree that I would rather see parents chip in where possible. A dollar from each parent would almost eliminate the extra costs. Parents tend to feel that if their children are in a public school, then the government should be footing the bill through collective taxes. We tend to look with green eyes at the private schools an say “oh yes, it’s alright for those rich kids to expect a better education – their parents can afford it”. Truth is most (not all) of us can afford a little out of pocket change, which as illustrated here, would make a huge difference. The sad fact is that our tax dollars just don’t get to where we’d like to see them used. Again – get active; send an e-mail, letter, post card, telephone call to your local and federal representatives. Organize your fellow school parents to do the same. Attend your local district school Board meetings. Investigate spending policies. Volunteer for School Site Council positions. See where your school is allocating funds. Arrange with employers whenever possible to volunteer for an hour when needed at school to be in the playground, make photo-copies. Pay for one running or volunteer to take it home and copy a set of papers. So much we can do to participate gainfully in our children’s education. Our family worked on an extremely tight budget for many years, but we were still able to make these contributions. You are absolutely right, our childrens’ education is our future.
Jamie Ervin says
I can’t help but think that advertisement on test papers would pose a distraction.
Our school has taken to a few simple ways to raise those extra funds. Of course, asking parents to contribute is always a valid method of obtaining funds and something we do when needed.
We’ve placed a plastic bag recycling bin in the hall. The school is given $ for each bag recycled. We also collect Box Tops and our parent group is happy to help fulfill added teacher needs from our budget.
There are better solutions than placing distracting advertisements on the test papers.