Take one bad economy, add school districts that are struggling with aid cuts, and what do you get? If you're in Peabody, Massachusetts, you get advertising emblazoned on the notes your kid's teacher sends home in his backpack.
And the commercialism doesn't stop there. Debates over soda machines in school cafeterias aren't just about the risk of sugary drinks jacking the childhood obesity epidemic up to new heights.
Parents are sick of their kids being exposed to advertising everywhere they turn, and Peabody parents are freaking out.
And they need to get over themselves.
How many times do you hear parents bemoaning yet another school fundraiser? And no one wants higher taxes (really, if you do, please provide your address, I'm sure you'll find more than a few bills in your box tomorrow). No one wants to buy another roll of crappy wrapping paper.
So what is a school to do?
In Peabody they have already tripled bus fees, added fees for non-profits to use school buildings, and cut teaching positions in response to declining state aid, but parents are still complaining.
So what's next? No more pencils kids, how about we all play diabetes testing today and prick your fingers to write with. Or maybe the kids can just rustle up some old books from home to use instead of buying new textbooks? Sure, kid, Pluto's a planet!
Or you could collect money for a few measly ads and make sure kids learn about the science discoveries in this century.
The district is shielding kids to an extent. Ice cream shops, hair salons, and their ilk will be asked to advertise, but the liquor stores and other seedy businesses in town need not apply for ad space. It's genius for local businesses, who get their name out there 10,000 times over for just $300. And they can guarantee the papers will be read -- because every parent knows the risk of being volunteered for some committee if they don't read each and every paper that comes home in the backpack.
The kids will not be traumatized. Most of them barely look at the papers they hand over to Mom and Dad (unless they're putting the ads on the detention forms, in which case that's a big waste of advertising dollars -- Mom's never going to see that one). The rest are pretty aware there's an ice cream stand in town, and oh boy, oh boy, it would be swell if they could get a cone every day.
As for the parents, here's your offer. An ad on the permission slip. Or a $300 hike in your tax bill.
Which would you choose?
Image via dprevite/Flickr