News & Achievements in the Fight for Commercial-Free Schools
- In late 2001, the Seattle school board passes a commercialism policy after several years of pressure from local activists organizing with the Citizens Campaign for Commercial-Free Schools (CCCs). The policy, which will eventually remove Channel One from Seattle schools, and limits ads and logos, may serve as a national example for other districts to follow.
- The Center releases Sample School Board Policies on Commercialism, based on several communities where polices has been passed. The Center's policies were distributed at national conventions in 2001- NEA, NSBA.
- In spring 2001, public pressure around exclusive cola contracts and a growing list of defeats in local situations forces Coca-Cola to announce changes in how they operate in schools. But by early 2002, there is no evidence to suggest that any of Coke's motivations has changed, illustrating that the announcement was a PR based move.
- According to figures compiled by the Center, district wide exclusive cola contracts are being rejected at an increasingly high pace. In 2001, the rate of rejection for considered contracts had risen to over 27%, as opposed to just over 8% in 1998.
- Exclusive rights cola deals continue to come under fire around the country. The list of communities where they have been rejected now is up to 67, including Philadelphia, El Paso, Sacramento, Pittsburgh, San Diego, San Francisco, Oakland, Danbury, CT, Southfield, MI, Boulder, CO, Seminole Co, FL, Milwaukee and Madison, WI. Bottom line: many parents, teachers and school board members feel that it is inappropriate to turn their schools into peddlers and endorsers of a particular brand of soda pop
- Oakland schools not only rejected a contract with Pepsi in 2001, but set up a nutrition committee that proposed a policy to take all soda, period, out of Oakland schools. The policy was passed in late 2001, and promises to set an example for the rest of the country.
- A disturbing new idea to put laptops in the hands of every student from fourth grade up, and forcing them to access advertising laden web sites, is proposed by the New York City Board of Education. The idea is challenged by the Center-led New York Coalition for Commercial-free Schools throughout 2000 and 2001. The coalition succeeds in getting ads pulled from all areas of the plan that can be viewed by students.
- Channel One rejected- Over the last three years, the Center has worked with concerned citizens in Asheville, NC, Hillsboro, IL, Hebron, IN, Tenino WA, Hallsville, TX, Hobe Sound, FL, North Reading, MA, Mount Sterling, KY, Bloomfield, NJ, Denver, CO, Hewitt, TX, Grants Pass, OR, New Milford, CT, Guyman, OK, Greencastle, PA, and Alpena, MI to get Channel One out of their schools, or prevent it from coming in. In each case, citizens worked to convince their school boards that educational concerns outweighed the promise of "free" TV equipment.
- Tristan Kading, a student in Stonington, CT, spoke out against a mandatory McDonalds Job Interview Skills assembly hosted by his high school in 2001. Tristan's action was met with anger by schools officials, who forced him to read an apology over the school's PA system. Tristan has since joined the Center's Youth Advisory Board.
- A bill authored by Senators Dodd and Shelby passes the U.S. Senate with bi-partisan support in late 2001. Though far from perfect, the bill limits some access to public schools for private collection of student information.
- For the second year in a row, the SCEC (Stop Commercial Exploitation of Children) coalition protests the Golden Marble awards, the advertising industry's awards to itself for the most effective ads to kids. The Center plays a big role in organizing the protest, culminating in a pressure campaign against Scholastic, initially one of the main sponsors of the awards. Scholastic pulls out of the awards under pressure.
- The Center was honored to receive a Positive Schmio award in April 2001, granted by the New York University School of Education for making a difference in the fight against the culture of commercialism.
- The NEA, the nation's largest teacher's union, takes an official stand against exclusive cola contracts in schools at their national convention in July 2001.
- Channel One is nabbed trying to go to teachers with a $500 incentive to sign up new schools in August 2001. The move, which would turn teachers into marketing agents for the infamous program, is spotted on their website by Obligation, Inc, and challenged publicly by Commercial Alert.
- In October 2000, ZapMe, the first mass marketed attempt to bring a Channel One style advertising model to school computer use, goes down! ZapMe, an internet provider for schools that delivered advertising and student data collection right into the classroom, failed to convince their prospective advertisers that they could overcome the growing controversy around advertising in schools.
- In October 2000, the American Dental Association (ADA) announced their opposition to cola marketing contracts in schools. The ADA announcement comes on the heels of a few important health studies that suggest cola consumption is unhealthy for young people.
- In fall 2000, an important Government Accounting Office (GAO) study is released that is the first federal confirmation that advertising in schools is a growing trend. The study says the trend may be problematic for schools, and that most school districts have inadequate policies to deal with the situation.
- Inspired by the trend against cola deals, and the CA Mazzoni legislation, no fewer than 13 states try legislation in 2001 that somehow relates to advertising in schools. One of the most visible was in Maryland, where state Sen. Paul Pinsky attempted a bill that went down to defeat. Pinsky is moving to try his bill ideas again in 2002.
- In January 2000, two California bills take effect, authored by Assemblywoman Kerry Mazzoni. One of the measures is very powerful, preventing text book advertising on a state level. The other is weaker, starting out as a broader ban on ads in school, but due to lobbying by Channel One is whittled down to
- In fall 2000, Madison, Wisconsin became the first school district to back out of an exclusive cola contract after having been in one for a number of years. Opposition grew during the three years of the deal, with many community members feeling like Madison schools were directly endorsing Coke to the public through their agreement.
- Commercialism in schools and the Center receive extensive local and national media coverage in print, TV and radio throughout the past year and a half. Stories appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, ABCNews.com, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer, Denver Post, and numerous other papers throughout the country. TV coverage included "Good Morning America" as well as ABC "World News Tonight," Fox National News , CNN, and MSNBC. Stories also appeared on NPR, on the BBC, and in Business Week and US News and World Report magazines. The Center was also featured in an article in the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) publication, American Educator.
Recent Local Highlights:
The Business and Finance Committee of the Board of Education said no to another Pepsi attempt to enter the Oakland Public Schools, prompting the Nutrition Committee to draft a proposal recommending the removal of all soda and advertising for soda from the public schools.
School Board Member Joan Hodge successfully lobbied other members of the Danbury Board of Education to vote no on an exclusive contract with Pepsi!
Youth Advisory Board member Tristan Kading spoke out against a mandatory McDonalds Job Interview Skills Assembly hosted by his high school.
New York, NY
Due to continuous pressure from parents and community members, the New York City Board of Education has removed advertising to students from their laptop for every student plan.
New York, NY
The Stop the Commercial Exploitation of Children coalition came together to protest the Golden Marble awards for the third year! Youth Advisory Board member Tristan Kading was presented the "David and Goliath" award for his stand against a McDonalds assembly in his high school.
Los Angeles, CA
Parent Valerie Tuna and the Occidental College Center for Food and Justice have organized a committee to push for a nutrition policy in the Los Angeles Unified School District.
Takoma Park, MD
Parent Mike Tabor led a coalition effort to push commercialism issues in Maryland, leading to the introduction of a state bill by Sen. Paul Pinsky which attempted to limit soda and junk food sales in schools.
San Diego, CA
School nutritionist Naomi Butler hosted a community meeting with Center staff to discuss an exclusive beverage contract. The San Diego School Board decided against pursuing such a contract!
Parent Kate Young convinced a district committee to decide against a proposal to hire an outside consulting company to pursue "partnerships" with corporate advertisers.
Hobe Sound, FL
School Board member M.L. Hearst succeeded in kicking Channel One out of his district!
Parent Robert Williams successfully pressured his school district in High Desert to stop their mandatory school assemblies that teach students to sell brand name products.
Los Angeles, CA
Center staff and board member Nick Leon tabled at the 2001 NEA Convention in July, distributing info to over 1000 teachers and school staff
.NEA new business items?
Parent Bill Sheehan formed a committee to push for a district wide commercialism policy after the school board voted to enter into an exclusive beverage contract with Coke.
San Diego, CA
Center staff tabled at the National School Board Association convention in March and distributed 1000 sample policies to school board members from around the country.
Three years of pressure from CCCs pushes the district into considering a district-wide commercialism policy that would remove Channel One from Seattle public schools.
The Dodd-Shelby bill passes the U.S. Senate with bi-partisan support. The bill limits access to public schools for private collection of student information.
Center staff and board member Carrie McLaren tabled at the Association for a Media Literate America Conference in June and participated in a panel discussion which included "Coke Dude" John Bushey.
New York, NY
The Center was honored to receive a Positive Schmio award in April 2001, granted by the New York University School of Education for making a difference in the fight against the culture of commercialism.
Group of parents, teachers, and students including Tom Pandaleon and Faith Schantz, Melissa Butler, Darby Kaighin-Shields, and Youth Advisory Board member Rebecca Meiksin successfully fought off a district-wide exclusive beverage contract with Pepsi and have formed a committee to draft a district-wide policy on commercialism.
Group of parents, community members, and students including Raquel Bournhonesque, Kathleen McAuliffe and Youth Advisory Board member Alex Diamond organized against exclusive Pepsi contract. School Board decided to enter into exclusive contract with Pepsi but organizers have formed a committee to draft a district-wide policy on commercialism.
Cherry Creek, CO
YAB member Nick Salter has performed a walk-through of his high school and is getting other students together to fight commercialism.
A group of students, parents, and community members led by student Trevor Ycas and YAB member Nell Geiser are working with the Boulder School Board to form a "commercial-free zone" in the Boulder Public Schools.
YAB member Max Cohen and Center staff tabled at the third annual Upset the Setup in September and hosted a well-attended workshop teaching California students and parents how to kick corporations out of their schools.
San Francisco, CA
YAB member Max Cohen tabled and led a workshop at Young, Loud, and Proud (YLP) in July, reaching hundreds of high school age youth and teachers.