Corporate advertisers are spending big buck$ to get their names into classrooms around the world. And schools strapped for ca$h are letting them do it. Why? And what can school administrators and teachers do to make sure kids are getting the right me$$age? Included: Media literacy and money managing Web sites for kids!
Take this surprise quiz and see how many questions you can answer:
1. They spend about $300.00 each, per month, on non-essential items.
a. single women b. retired men c. U.S. kids
2. They spend a total of $11 to $15 billion each year.
a. government lobbyists b. foreign tourists c. U.S. kids
3. They influence the spending of about $160 billion of other peoples'
money each year.
a. celebrity spokespeople b. N.Y. stockbrokers c. U.S. kids
The answer to each of those questions is, of course, c. U.S. kids.
"Marketers have come to realize that all roads eventually lead to the schools."
In the United States today, kids just learning to add add up to big business for many major corporations. And the schools in which those kids spend more than 20 percent of their time represent an important economic marketplace for those businesses. Since 1989 -- when Channel One, a televised program containing 10 minutes of news and 2 minutes of commercial advertising, first entered America's classrooms -- the corporate presence has been increasingly felt in school districts across the country. Commercial ads now appear on school buses and in school hallways. They decorate gyms, school cafeterias, lockers, and book covers. Team uniforms, billboards, and scoreboards sport corporate logos and company slogans. Educational materials, programs, contests, and awards boast corporate sponsorship -- and sell corporate products.
According to "Captive Kids," a 1995 report issued by the Consumer Union Education Services (CUES), in-school advertising can be classified into four categories:
Whichever form their ads take, corporate advertisers all have the same three primary objectives: to influence how kids spend their own money, to affect how kids influence their parents' spending, and to build brand loyalty among future adult consumers.
Despite concerns expressed by reluctant administrators, skeptical teachers, and worried parents, the corporate presence continues to grow in American schools -- and it is probably here to stay. Corporate dollars provide technology many schools could not otherwise afford. Businesses provide grants, scholarships, and incentives that improve the future of many students. Corporate-sponsored educational materials can provide up-to-date information to supplement out-of-date textbooks.
At a time when taxpayers are increasingly reluctant to raise school budgets, when school sports and enrichment programs are in danger because they lack adequate funding, when teachers spend an average of more than $400 of their own money on classroom supplies, those advertising dollars, prizes, incentives, and educational materials can be hard to ignore -- or refuse.
Groups such as the National Parent Teacher Association and the National Education Association have therefore called for the establishment of guidelines that can allow schools to benefit from corporate dollars while maintaining educational integrity. Those guidelines include:
In and out of school, kids are constantly bombarded by media messages and commercial influences. Effective educational programs in media literacy and money management can help them deal with those messages in intelligent and discriminating ways. Those programs should begin in elementary school and continue throughout the educational process.
The following Web sites provide information and resources for teaching kids how to evaluate the commercial messages they're exposed to and how to make responsible and thoughtful decisions about spending and saving their money.
WHERE KIDS CAN LEARN ABOUT MONEY
Article by Linda Starr
Copyright © 2006 Education World