|An actual advertisement encouraging companies to market to young children.|
Why was I opposed? The reasons are not simple, and indeed, the issue is not a simple one. I started out relatively supportive of the use of advertising in schools, as long as it was done "judiciously." But gradually, I changed my opinion. Now I can no longer accept the notion of our schools becoming brokers for advertising space or, worse yet, middlemen in the merchandising of products directly to our students. It is better, in my opinion, to walk away from the short-term opportunity for money than to open our schools to the long-term consequences that come with the dollars. Here are my concerns:
- Education and marketing are like oil and water.
Public education has an agenda that is already crowded enough. When we become marketers and distributors, we confuse our mission. I worry about a time when our educational goals might be influenced or even set by private companies targeting our students with their own narrow messages. And before you think I am simply being paranoid, consider some of the advertisements from companies that already specialize in marketing to students in schools.
'School is ... the ideal time to influence attitudes, build long-term loyalties, introduce new products, test-market, promote sampling and trial usage, and - above all - to generate immediate sales,' says an ad to clients of Lifetime Learning Systems. 'Reach him in the office,' an ad for Modern Talking Picture Service, Inc., says above a photo of a five-year-old Asian-American boy dressed in a three-piece suit and armed with a briefcase. 'His first day job is kindergarten. ... If he's in your target market, call us ...'
How long will it be before these messages become our message?