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

Nov. 14, 2011

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

Letter Describes Advertising’s Harmful Effects on Developing Children

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Miami-Dade County School District in Florida should not move forward with plans to allow increased commercial advertising on school properties, Public Citizen said in a letter sent today to the school board.

Doing so would raise little revenue and undermine Miami-Dade County’s educational and child development mission, the letter said. Additionally, agreements the district is in the process of negotiating with advertising management companies likely would bring only miniscule financial benefits. These companies often take a significant cut of any revenues that districts gain from advertising, which are typically minimal to begin with. 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.”

Existing school board guidelines to evaluate potential advertisers are insufficient, offering virtually no protection to students, the letter said. For example, although the district’s wellness guidelines attempt to minimize junk food consumption in schools, they likely would not go far enough to prevent all advertising of unhealthy foods, such as fast food and soda.

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