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State Funding Slashed, Schools Slap Fast Food Ads on Buses

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Education, brought to you by Subway's $5 Footlong.

That's the future of American public school financing, according to a Fox Business report. It seems districts across the country, facing huge funding cuts, are turning their school buses into billboards to scrape together some revenue.

The rolling ad campaigns won't necessarily fill schools' massive budget holes -- Texas's Clear Creek Independent School District, profiled in the article, expects they'll bring in $400,000 a year, compared to the $17.5 million funding cut the district faces. But every few hundred thousand helps.

And for those parents who might object to slapping ads on the buses that take their kids to and from school, officials have a message: Hey, at least we're pushing credit unions and sub shops, not cigarettes and cognac.

“Obviously, nothing advertising alcohol, tobacco, firearms, or gambling will be used. Really, anything that isn’t clearly family-oriented won’t be used,” Elaina Polsen, spokeswoman for Clear Creek schools, told Fox Business.

Besides, ads in schools are nothing new: Students watch commercials for acne wash and breath mints between segments on Channel One News, which broadcasts to classrooms. Districts have explored plastering ads on lockers.

And even lesson plans aren't free from corporate influence: Educational publishing giant Scholastic Corporation (SCHL) teamed up with the American Coal Foundation to sponsor an energy curriculum for schools until public outcry prompted a retreat. The publisher still works with the Egg Board to push lesson plans extolling the virtues of eggs, The New York Times reports.

So it may seem quaint to fret about monetizing the school-bus experience. Still, health experts warn that children are especially vulnerable to ads for junk foods, and putting them on yellow buses sort of undermines efforts to get such messages away from our youth.

“If a kid gets out of school hungry and the first thing he sees is pizza on the side of his bus, he’s going to ask for pizza when he gets home,” dietician Limor Baum tells Fox Business.

Oh, you mean like this bus?

Fair enough. That $5 Hot-N-Ready does look tempting.
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