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Schools should be ad-free zones

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.

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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

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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

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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

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corporate images. Requiring students to be inundated with advertising

messages is unethical and runs counter to what schools are entrusted

to do.

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.

DOUG WHALEY

Burbank


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