School Access for Money

By Nora Carr

Massive teacher layoffs and budget cuts nationwide have spawned a new feeding frenzy among marketers eager to build brand awareness among the very young. In the rush to get their wares in front of students and their families, advertisers are dangling promises of major dollars --  and more cash-starved school officials are taking the bait.

With advertising ubiquitous in our national culture, converting schoolchildren into lifelong customers may not seem like that big a deal. After all, buying booster club ads, sponsoring family fun nights, and hosting school fundraisers are time-honored business traditions in many local communities.

Private schools have hosted major donor events for years, and naming buildings and programs after generous --  and wealthy --  contributors is an accepted strategy for public universities. Yet there’s something creepy about offering public buildings and spaces that serve children, including many of the nation’s most vulnerable, for sale. 

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