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More Advertising Coming to Cash-Strapped Schools

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A few days ago, the New York Times explored a new trend in an article titled, "On School Buses, Ad Space for Rent."

"Utah became the latest state to allow school bus advertising when its governor signed a law last month authorizing the practice," the paper reported. "The strategy began in the 1990s in Colorado, then spread to Texas, Arizona, Tennessee and Massachusetts. In the last year, at least eight other states have considered similar legislation.

Districts with 250 buses can expect to generate about $1 million over four years by selling some yellow space, according to Michael Beauchamp, president of Alpha Media, a company based in Dallas that manages advertising on 3,000 school buses in Texas and Arizona.

Officials say that the revenue, while small, can still make the difference between having new textbooks — or a music teacher or a volleyball team — and not having them.

“If the alternative is huge classroom sizes and losing teachers and losing qualified personnel, yes, this seems like something we should consider,” said Valery Lynch, 48, a fourth-grade teacher in The Woodlands, Tex., north of Houston. “But I know that it’s a bag of worms, and people are going to ask ‘What’s next? An ad on the classroom clock?’ “
Actually, yes. And it's been going on for years. In Pocatello, Idaho, one teacher figured out a way to get $315 worth of badly-needed paper for free:

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In San Diego, a cash-strapped calculus teacher offered ad space to local businesses, charging $10 to print messages on quizzes, $20 for tests, and $30 for final exams, thereby raising $625 in one semester.

It’s not just mom-and-pop pizza parlors and contracting companies that advertise in schools, either. The Seminole County public-school system, in Florida, sent kindergarten through fifth-grade report cards home with students in this handy envelope provided by McDonald’s (MCD):

Thanks to complaints from parents, free Happy Meals for As and Bs were no longer available as of the 2008-09 school year.

But, fear not: Kids can still get their fill of sodium, fat, and cholesterol from Pizza Hut (YUM) in exchange for reading books:

What’s that? Your child doesn’t like books? Not  to worry - Disney (DIS) has it covered:

Yes, we live in an ever-more commercialized society. But then, in schools, there are ads that don’t look like ads.

You’ve certainly heard of the Scholastic Corporation (SCHL). You also may have heard of some of the companies they’ve worked with to teach kids math - Hershey's (HSY) is, after all, a household name.

Procter & Gamble (PG) also assists teachers with curricular materials: The company provides the syllabus for a fifth-grade puberty education class called “Always Changing.” Of course, once these 10-year-olds “change” they’ll need P&G’s Old Spice deodorant and Always tampons.

School is also where future career interests are formed. Enter the “Student Journal for Self Discovery,” brought to you by Deloitte:

Eighteen different careers are explored, including writer, magician, and town mayor. The book goes on to suggest that students “Consider a career you may never have imagined - working as a professional auditor.”

"When I grow up, I want to be a fireman. Wait, I mean..."
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