Daily Breeze Editorial
12.29.2010 - In an ideal world, the Los Angeles Unified School District wouldn't need to tap corporate sponsors to pay for sports programs, Academic Decathlon or field trips. There would be enough money to cover these important enrichment and extracurricular activities that help round out an education.
But, there is nothing ideal about the LAUSD these days.
The district had already gone through multiple rounds of layoffs, cutting teachers and school support staff. The remaining employees are taking unpaid furlough days and the school year has been cut to save money. The staggering state budget deficit this year will surely mean even more painful cuts.
In light of those challenges that threaten to undermine the strength and promise of public schools, it's hard to get worked up over some corporate sponsorships of facilities or class trips. Especially when that company money could save $18 million a year worth of services.
Yes, selling corporate sponsorships is a Band-Aid. It's doesn't address or really help the overall financial crisis that is truly jeopardizing public education.
But we'll take a Band-Aid wherever we can get it these days.
Let's give the LAUSD leadership some credit. They don't want to sell out kids or turn over schools to crass marketing schemes. They don't intend to accept advertising that is unhealthy or not appropriate for youngsters - so, in theory, no Red Bull banners or McDonald's-sponsored field trips.
Proposals could include placing logos in lunchroom cafeterias or along the football field. Companies can also "buy" naming rights with their donations, so you may attend a recital in the Kodak Auditorium at the local high school or your children could type up their reports in the Dell Computer Lab.
Purists fear that the LAUSD is selling access to children's minds in order to cover the bills. But, most kids today have grown up exposed to advertising and marketing campaigns - when they watch television, ride in cars down the street, visit the mall.
It's hard to know how much these messages sink in. Does the proliferation of advertising simply become white noise or background scenery in a child's world?
But these are questions for different times. Right now, if LAUSD is deciding between canceling an Academic Decathlon program or firing the art teacher versus accepting corporate sponsorships to fund those programs, the choice is clear.
Bring on the money.