Budget cuts lead to ads in schools

Advertisement for an aquarium on school lockers. Courtesy of Creative Commons.

Creative Commons

Advertisement for an aquarium on school lockers. Courtesy of Creative Commons.

Throughout the years, schools have been receiving more and more budget cuts forcing them to make difficult decisions. Cutting school programs such as music, theater, art, culinary, and more have become a reality for many schools whose efforts to raise funds have not been successful.

Appearing as an alternative option to budget cuts, advertisements in schools have become a growing part of many students’ lives.

Ads appear in the classroom as early as elementary with the “Book-It” program which gives students free coupons for Pizza Hut personal pan pizzas in exchange for their reading.

Although it can appear as a positive way for students to be motivated to read, it goes much deeper than that.

By giving children a free pizza coupon, Pizza Hut brings in not only those kids, but the families of those kids. Since the coupon is only enough for a pizza for one person, the rest of the child’s family has to buy their own pizza, so by giving the child a free pizza, Pizza Hut is making a lot of money off of the family of that child.

This type of marketing expands all the way through middle and high school where companies like Frito-Lay have been making alternative products to meet the required school health standards. For example, Frito-Lay has been producing low-fat Doritos specifically for schools since 2010 when Michelle Obama got her school health plan passed, “The Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act”.

The low-fat Doritos were made to fit the new school health standards back in 2010 so that they could keep selling their products to schools.

The reason for this is not mainly about selling them to schools since they do sell them at a discounted price, but for advertisement.

If kids are eating Doritos at school, they are much more likely to buy them for full price outside of school later on. Just like Pizza Hut, they are making sure that kids are receiving their products at a young age so that they are more likely to continue to consume them outside of school.

One of the biggest risks that comes with advertising junk food in schools is obesity.

According to a study conducted by the Cancer Research Center, kids that see more ads about junk food are more likely to consume more junk food.

The study showed that kids who watched one more fast food ad above the average of six per week ate an average of 350 more calories of foods high in salt, sugar, and fat per week than kids who watched the average amount of ads.

With the child obesity rate at 18.5 % in the US, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, pushing more ads onto kids for unhealthy products is only going to increase this alarming statistic.

In addition, kids do not have a choice on whether they are exposed to ads in the classroom or not, and neither do their parents.

Students spend an average of 35 hours in school every week, and they are not given the choice of whether to be there or not. It is immoral to be making money off kids who have no choice other than to be there each day.

Yes, there is financial gain in schools displaying ads, and yes more money does mean that the school can do more for students, but is it worth it?

Public schools should not have to resort to ads to simply keep their doors open each day. Instead of trying to patch up the damage, we need to address the root of the problem: the lack of funds given to public schools by the government.

The purpose of school is being threatened by budget cuts, allowing companies to come into a school setting and influence kids for their own agendas.

Are students at school to learn or to be commercialized?