Letters to the Editor

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TACOMA: Keep ads off school scoreboards

Letter by Margi Nowak, Tacoma on July 6, 2011 at 12:34 pm | 5 Comments »
July 6, 2011 1:43 pm

Re: “Scoreboards will ring up ad dollars for schools” (TNT, 7-5).

Why does the chirpy headline about new corporate-sponsored scoreboards remind me of the Clear Channel billboard controversy?

Maybe it’s because in both cases, the assumption is that an inflow of money in these tough economic times is unquestionably a good thing, regardless of the costs of such corporate-driven media arrangements.

Let’s look at three points made about this proposal by the advocacy group Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, a national coalition of health care professionals, educators, almost 30 advocacy groups, parents and individuals who care about children.

As this group points out, advertising in schools exploits a captive audience of students, coloring its pitches with the powerful connotations of “school-sponsored” endorsements. While selling out students for any price is simply not the right thing to do, this particular arrangement will, according to the CCFC, only bring in about $2 per student per year once the district pays its share for the scoreboards – hardly a windfall for the school district.

Worst of all, such an arrangement teaches students a terribly wrong lesson. Clearly the sponsors of these scoreboards are driven by the need to promote their own profit rather than by the students’ – and the public – good.

When young people are taught by such corporate marketers that what matters most of all is the bottom line (“give ‘em a scoreboard and we get free advertising forever”), the health of our democracy, which depends on informed discussion and debate, is put in great jeopardy.

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