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As a national organization, the Center for Commercial-Free Public Education can connect journalists to parents, teachers, students and school administrators tackling commercialism in the schools across the country. We've designed the entire site to allow everyone to explore the issues surrounding commercialism in the schools. To access these areas, simply click on the navigational buttons to the left of the screen. If you have more specific requests for materials or local contacts, please use our form.
Board to Vote on Commercial-Free Schools
San Francisco, CA -- Tomorrow night the Board of Education will vote on policy that Commissioners Jill Wynns and Eddie Chin have introduced to keep all of San Francisco Unified School District free from commercial advertising and paid endorsements. Currently, there is no review process for corporate sponsored educational materials or in-school advertisements.
Unbeknownst to almost every parent and most board members, SFUSD was noted as "in negotiation" on an office document from DD Marketing, a private consulting firm that brokers deals between schools and cola companies. Such exclusivity contracts are usually negotiated with little public input, and often districts find themselves regretting the binding agreements soon after they are signed.
"If implemented, this policy will be the strongest protective measure taken by any district in the country," said Andrew Hagelshaw, Senior Program Director for the Center for Commercial-Free Public Education. "The Act calls for all on-going corporate support to be approved by the Board of Education, ensuring that our schools won't be taken advantage of by advertising in text books or companies pushing junk food in our hallways."
The Commercial-Free Schools Act also strongly supports a "tobacco support-free educational setting." The products of tobacco company subsidiaries would be restricted from sale in all public schools. Concerns from the general public will be heard before the School Board votes at Tuesday night's meeting, 7 PM at Everett Middle School, 450 Church Street at 16th.
in Schools Robs Communities of Local Control Over Education
Washington, DCThis Thursday, May 20, the US Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee will take its second look at Channel One, the highly controversial classroom "news" program that turns 40% of our nation's kids into a captive audience for advertisers every school day. Channel One is banned in the state of New York, and is opposed by nearly every major education group in the US. Despite the fact that Channel One plays to over 8 million school children every day on a mandatory basis, many citizens remain unaware of the program's presence.
"We feel it is important that every citizen be made aware of the issues surrounding this questionable program," said Andrew Hagelshaw, Senior Program Director of the Center for Commercial-Free Public Education. The Center, a national non-profit organization that has publicly opposed Channel One since 1993, claims that Channel One works against the educational wishes of local communities by playing 2 minutes of advertisements during every 12 minute show. "Many of these ads convey messages to children that their parents and teachers don't want them to learn," said Hagelshaw. "In this way, Channel One is taking educational control away from local school districts."
While the hearing Thursday will focus on Channel One, the issue of marketing to school kids goes much further. Commercialism in America's classrooms is reaching epidemic proportions, with new forms of in-school advertising being discovered every week. Recent articles in TIME magazine and the New York Times have chronicled some examples, such as the McGraw-Hill math textbook for six graders that includes advertising. "It's all about making schoolchildren into a captive audience for advertisers, and the federal government should do everything in its power to stop it," said Walter Hanna, the Executive Director of the Center.
Possible action suggestions from the Center for Commercial-Free Public Education for the US Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee include:
"The bottom line here is that commercialism in schools is the opposite of local control," added Mr. Hagelshaw. "If the federal government believes in local control of education, they should do everything in their power to curb commercialism and make the public aware of the issues. For this reason we thank the Senate for holding hearings on Channel One."
All of the recent national articles on commercialism mentioned Channel One as the company who began the trend of aggressive brand name marketing in schools with their launching in 1989. "Channel One, by bringing advertising directly into the classroom, sent a message that the schoolroom was no longer off limits," said Walter Hanna. "Advertising during school time was no longer taboo. Channel One kicked in the school door, and other advertising schemes have followed right in behind them."
Research done in 1997 by Vassar College professor William Hoynes concluded it was dubious whether Channel One "provides educational or civic benefits to either students or educators." Yet another study done by Michigan State University showed that children were much more likely to remember the ads, making Channel One a highly effective medium for brand name advertisers.
Channel One also takes away precious instructional time from our schools. The program fills six entire days of the school year, thus forcing the public to subsidize six days of television watching. One of the days is devoted entirely to advertisements. Recent research reported in theNew York Times concluded that the loss to tax payers annually amounts to over $1.8 billion.
Math Textbook Advertises to Children
Oakland, CAA new math textbook distributed nationwide by McGraw-Hill is laden with commercial images, according to a front-page article in the New York Times. The book, first published in 1995 and updated this year, asks students to figure how much money they need to save to buy a pair of Nike shoes, and teaches them fractions through counting M&Ms. "Mathematics: Applications and Connections" has been approved for use in at least one school district in every state, according to McGraw-Hill. 15 states, including California and Texas, have officially adopted the book.
"This is the first time weve seen advertising in state-subsidized text-books. Taxpayers are now footing the bill for these companies to go after our children," said Andrew Hagelshaw, Senior Program Director of the Center for Commercial-Free Public Education. The Center is a national non-profit organization located in Oakland, CA. "A math textbook should not be another opportunity for companies to make kids brand loyal to their products."
The situation has caught the attention of California Assemblywoman Kerry Mazzoni, head of the Assembly Education Committee. Mazzoni recently introduced legislation that would ban all images that are not for a specific educational purpose. McGraw-Hill Inc. is lobbying hard in Sacramento to shoot down the bill.
Glencoe-McGraw Hill calls the commercial images in their textbook "real-world applications," arguing that the story problems use examples that children can identify with. "Apparently real world applications means real world advertising complete with real world corporate logos," said Walter Hanna, the Executive Director of the Center for Commercial-Free Public Education. "There is no educational reason to ask kids to compare a Big Mac with a Quarter Pounder with Cheese, other than to sell them on going to eat at McDonalds."
McGraw-Hill told the New York Times they received no payment from the companies for the image placement. They failed to explain, however, why certain companies are featured while others have their logos blacked or airbrushed out.
See Attachment with examples from the book
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