Why is the Burbank Teachers Assn. endorsing school board candidate
Paul Krekorian? While Mr. Krekorian should be commended for his local
volunteer efforts, his desire to bring corporate sponsors into our
schools is wrong, and the BTA should know that.
Commercially exploiting our children to make up for financial
shortfalls is not an ethical way to finance education. The California
Department of Education, the Government Accounting Office, the
Consumers Union, the National Education Assn. (NEA) and the National
Parent Teacher Assn. (PTA) have opposed advertising in classrooms,
and so should our school board and the citizens of Burbank.
Programs and materials produced with marketing objectives in mind
ultimately corrupt curricula and compromise schools’ efforts to
educate and empower students. Getting kids to buy products, feel good
about a corporation or adopt the viewpoints of an industry is not the
purpose of education. Ads in school materials and programs lend an
implied endorsement of sponsors or products and are all the more
damaging because they affect a captive audience that has been asked
to trust what a teacher says and does.
Many corporate efforts masquerade as educational materials or
activities while promoting self-interested, incomplete or
discriminatory points of view. Sponsored programs and materials often
bypass review processes intended to safeguard students from biased or
otherwise flawed materials. Schoolchildren are not rational
consumers. They should not become pawns in the game of building
corporate images. Requiring students to be inundated with advertising
messages is unethical and runs counter to what schools are entrusted
Burbank schools should not be put into the position of advocating
products to fulfill contract agreements. Our schools should be
advertising-free zones, where young people can pursue learning
without commercial influences.
On top of it all, revenue generated from school-based commercial
activities represents only a tiny percentage of a school’s budget.
Corporations receive tax benefits for sponsorship, so in the end,
taxpayers still end up footing the bill.
The reality is we don’t have a funding problem. We have a priority
problem. The United States is the most prosperous country in the
world. It is ludicrous to suggest that we do not have enough money to
support appropriate education.
Rather than question how our schools will survive yet another
budget crisis, the real question should be how our federal, state and
local governments spend our tax dollars, and who benefits. And we
should expect that those we elect as school board members have the
courage and foresight to stand up and demand that.