Charles Feldman in the Huffington Post | http://huff.to/eUlgtM
December 16, 2010 05:07 PM - "Good morning class. Before I begin, let me just say that this section of Biology 101 is brought to you by the makers of genuine Bayer aspirin. If you get a headache from this class, remember to reach for Bayer -- the brand doctors trust! Now, if you can please open your text books to chapter three."
Far-fetched? Maybe not.
The cash-starved Los Angeles Unified School District has chosen the path of least resistance to the corporate world at a time when companies are anxious to get their hands on the young minds of school children at the earliest age possible.
The board is apparently going ahead with plans to seek corporate sponsors for such things as school auditoriums and athletic fields. Off limits, at least for now: corporate promotions for alcohol, tobacco and firearms, according to the New York Times. Well, thank God for that, right?!
Imagine how embarrassing it would be if the next time there is a campus shooting, it turns out the weapon used was actually sponsored by some gun maker?
Ramon Cortines, the L.A. schools superintendent, is quoted by the LA Times as saying, "we're not going to put advertising where it offends."
Really? Well, Mr. Cortines, that sort of misses the point, doesn't it? The point is, all corporate advertising in school in order to raise cash offends. Doesn't matter where it is.
The pity is, the LAUSD is willing to sell its soul to the devil in exchange for very little money, really.
School district officials are quoted as projecting potential ad revenue at about $18 million. The operating budget for the district, however, is reportedly about $5.4 billion.
So, any money raised by corporate advertising is a drop in the bucket, in exchange for a bucket of KFC chicken potentially plastering its logo on a school's cafeteria's walls.
Some might argue, especially teachers facing layoffs, that better this than have more cutbacks.
I doubt it.
Opening up LA's schools to corporate sponsorship is a major step in a very wrong direction. Students are better off with more crowded classrooms than they are with minds crowded with corporate logos.
Charles Feldman is a journalist, media consultant and co-author of the book, "No Time To Think-The Menace of Media Speed and the 24-hour News Cycle." He has covered politics and police in L.A. since 1995 and is a regular contributor of investigative reports to KNX1070 Newsradio.