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In-School Advertising Is the Wrong Way to Raise Revenue for Hawaii

Nov. 14, 2011 

In-School Advertising Is the Wrong Way to Raise Revenue for Hawaii

Letter Describes Advertising’s Harmful Effects on Developing Children

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The State of Hawaii Board of Education should reject the state Department of Education’s proposed amendment to its commercialism policy, which would allow for significantly increased commercial advertising in schools and libraries, Public Citizen said in a letter sent today to the school board.

Adopting this amendment would raise little revenue and undermine Hawaii’s educational and child development mission, the letter said. The advertisements would bring only miniscule financial benefits; the small revenues would barely offset the administrative cost and burden of putting the advertising program in place.

“Children already are surrounded by near-constant advertising that promotes consumerism and commercial values,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. “But the ubiquity of advertising is not a reason for allowing corporate naming rights and in-school advertising to persist; it is a reason why children need a sanctuary from a world where everything seems to be for sale.”

Added Elizabeth Ben-Ishai, campaign coordinator for Public Citizen’s Commercial Alert project, “In-school advertising and marketing schemes convey market rather than civic values and impede the ability of schools to function as open spaces where ideas are freely exchanged and the next generation of public-minded, conscientious and virtuous students can grow.”

In a recent memo to the school board, Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi’s stated that permitting school advertising would not have different effects than those experienced by students who already see corporate logos on reams of paper, computers and pencils. But advertising on school property itself pushes the presence of commercial influences to a new level, Ben-Ishai said.

Proposed school board guidelines to evaluate those who wish to purchase naming rights are insufficient, offering virtually no protection to students, the letter said. For example, although the state’s wellness guidelines attempt to minimize junk food consumption in schools, they do not far enough; the guidelines easily can be interpreted in an overly broad manner that would allow for marketing of products detrimental to students.

Public Citizen is a national, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit www.citizen.org