July 31, 2018

Schools Should Remain a Sanctuary from Corporate Ads

Public Citizen Urges Massachusetts High School to Not Allow Corporate Advertising on School Properties, Websites and Apps

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Andover High School should maintain its current advertising policy and should keep educational spaces a critical sanctuary from commercialism, Public Citizen said today.

The Massachusetts high school is considering accepting a donation from a used car dealership in exchange for a new scoreboard, and is also considering amending its advertising policy to allow further corporate partnerships, potentially subjecting its 1,700-plus students to harmful commercial influence. The current policy prohibits advertising of commercial products on school property.

“If the Commonwealth Motors donation is accepted by the school committee for a new scoreboard, it should not come in exchange for advertising space on school property,” Public Citizen’s Commercial Alert program wrote in a letter (PDF) to the Andover High School Committee. “Educational institutions should promote civic virtue and the public good, not commercial values.”

School Committee member Joel Blumstein told the Andover Townsman that he has mixed feelings about allowing commercial advertising at the school and that “there’s obviously a potential revenue source if we wanted to open ourselves up to advertising. The flip side is, what is our tolerance level for commercializing the schools and school property?”

Public Citizen warns that the harms of school commercialism far outweigh the lesser financial benefit. “We understand that the financial pressures that your school district faces to fund student activities make you eager to identify non-traditional sources of funding,” the letter states. “However, subjecting children to even greater amounts of advertising is the wrong response. It will raise little revenue while undermining Andover High School’s educational and child development mission."

The school’s current policy, which prohibits commercial advertising in school and on school property, takes the right approach and puts students’ wellbeing first, said Kristen Strader, campaign coordinator for Public Citizen’s Commercial Alert program. “Schools should be a sanctuary from a world where excessive consumption is the norm.”

###