Los Angeles School District: Brought to You by Corporate Sponsors

Today, the Los Angeles Unified School District, in need of $18 million to cover yearly expected budget shortfalls, may vote to approve corporate sponsorship of playing fields, cafeterias, and other spaces on school campuses. 
Fast food or sugary soda companies would not be allowed to advertise. Neither would alcohol or cigarette companies.

A Los Angeles Times editorial today gives “reluctant approval” to the idea, mainly because the plan

would allow school personnel to seek sponsorship contracts for certain programs that are now paid for out of the general budget, such as team sports, food services, arts, Academic Decathlon and parent outreach. Corporate sponsors would gain the right to emblazon their logos in the cafeteria, on the athletic field or on printed materials that promote the sponsored programs, but they would not be allowed to advertise.

Regardless, this seems like a well-worn tactic by “big-government”-hating conservatives: weaken the public sector until finally–voila!–the answer seems to be to bring in corporate money in some way. (Look at the charter school movement, or the need some schools find to trademark their school mascots so they can at least profit from sales of athletic team gear.) Take a look at how ten years ago, a company set about trying to “soften” the appearance of corporate logos on school campuses by coming up with their own logo.

According to a recent study by the Trust to Reach Education Excellence, the foundation of the National Association of Secondary School Principals, one-third of schools report that their funding situation is worse now than it was five years ago. [article dating from 2001--ed.]

“The bottom line is that schools are not adequately funded by taxpayers,” said Michael Carr, spokesman for NASSP. “Communities are asking schools to do so much more than they did even 10 years ago, and every new class or program or attempt to bring teachers up to snuff costs money.”

As a result, corporate marketing on public school campuses has become so pervasive that the General Accounting Office, a watchdog arm of Congress, commissioned the first congressional study of commercial activities in the schools two years ago. Today, 19 states — not including Pennsylvania — have statutes or regulations that specifically address school-related commercial activities, according to the GAO report.

A watchdog advocacy group, The Center for Commercial-Free Education, has a resource of commercial-free policies adopted by school districts in different states, as well as tips on how to enact them. 
Kids deserve a distraction-free environment where the focus is 100% on learning. And part of what they’re learning is to be good citizens, not good consumers. To expose kids to corporate logos is to deliver a captive audience to companies who know that children lack judgment to evaluate advertising and corporate brands. 
Wouldn’t it be better if our schools were not always in crisis, and were instead fully funded as a major priority of local and state governments?

Related Stories: 

Cutting Food Stamps to Pay for School Lunch Programs?

Budget Cuts Hammer Schools: Keep the Math, Dump the Music

Meatless Mondays Replacing Mystery Meat in More School Cafeterias

Photo credit: Takahata Classroom Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic


Ed G.
Ed G7 years ago

Kay L:
Well you are partially right in the question but you should have gone farther in the fact that local,county,state politicians contain quite a few crooks and or feather bedding (still crooks). I do not know how bad it is in California but in Illinois it is endemic and sad. Relatives are hired for a high paying job and they are not qualified so the ones that do work hard are overworked and then they give up. It is not any political party that does it more, both Democrats and Republicans do it equally. Its one thing to be qualified and then interviewed and then hired based on the persons expertise but to be hired because you are a cousin or so or whatever relative. It ends up making the system not work. As it starts to spread as more and more family members are hired. There is quite a bit of waste just based in that area.
I have a friend who is HIV and he used to go to a facility that was dedicated to perople with HIV. I had to drive him there because its really inconvienient to get to. aAAFter about 6 months I started to notice that some of the people that worked there weren't really working. Ours seemed to be extremely busy, and if that wasn't bad enough HIV people need quite a bit of medications and you could not order them nbefore you came there you had to wait in line to turn in your medications and then wait for them to be filled and of course the paperwork on the pharmacy staff. To get 1 bottle of medication took my friend an hour (could be 2 hours). There i

Debbie M.
Debbie Miller7 years ago

thanks for the information.

Catherine Turley
Catherine Turley7 years ago

i think it's a good way to make money, although not necessarily reliable. and interestingly, some charter schools are no better off than public. i just saw a plea on craigslist from a charter school teacher in l.a. she said kids were constantly coming up to her and asking her to buy the most basic materials for them.

Ken B.
Ken Bachtold B7 years ago

I say STOP supporting military bases on every scape of land that is (currently) above water! Also STOP foreign aid to all the countries that are hostile (or totally disrespectful) to us and use that same money for FREE EDUCATION in America. We throw money around (the illegl wars, loopholes for the corporations and tax benefits for the super rich) but we let the kids suffer in the meantime. WHAT A CROCK! And the Republicans are AGAINST ANYTHING that benefits the average man! So, whey did those morons vote tham back into power? They want to privatize EVERYTHING - even the schools (charter schools). Public education used to be absolutely terrific (before the days of "standardized," cookie-cutter tests - horrible for the teacher and the students. Like everything else in this country - we're FAILING. Remember EVERY great society disappeared - and usually for the same reason - those at the top got more and more greedy until there was nothing left to grab! Bernie Saunders for President in 2012!

Past Member 7 years ago

Part 1
i think it's already too late to keep schools free of corporate sponsorship, but what really happened? the claim is that taxpayers didn't pay, but they did. where did their money go? it went somewhere and why do schools need so much more money? the teachers aren't getting rich, the schools are falling apart, so where is that money? perhaps there was enough money until the huge influx of students, many needing special attention such as interpretive services, medical needs and so on. i'm sure that the parents, some who may have been illegal immigrants did not receive a bill to pay for the additional costs of sending their children to school in the U.S. The taxpayer was expected to stand that cost too. do we again really need to discuss the high costs and damages of illegal immigration to the school systems? yes, regardless of how we may personally feel, and to be humane who could turn a child away? But the issue right now before us is money, and for every child of illegal immigration that was NOT budgeted for, the costs were paid by regular taxpayers. there is a very real price for illegal immigration as there is for all crimes. as sad as this situation is, no one in this country counted on having to pay thousands of dollars extra every year to pay for the education of the tens of thousands of illegal immigrants. and let's all remember that it is not the fault of the children. the adult parents are responsible as are all those who knew of their presence and did nothing

Past Member 7 years ago

Part 2
Many went on welfare, medicaid, medicare, public housing assistance, and other such support programs. When you multiply these costs by hundreds of thousands around the country, is it any wonder that we are now broke? Every public system we have is broke. Illegal immigrants came here for a better life for them and their children and took everything they could get, housing, food, education, health and medical care, and why not? Our government gave it to them and never said no, no matter what the voters wanted. Now the voters want accountability! Politicians talk of immigration reform. We don't need immigration reform, we need immigration compliance! The school systems were designed to handle the predictable number of students projected through the various decades, but no one ever considered including all the costs of the illegal immigrant. Basically, by coming here illegally, these parents stole from the U.S. Taxpayers. And let's remember 1) they can't pay it back, the bill is too huge. 2) our government LET them do this and gave them all the benefits! 3) it is not the fault of the children, 4) many illegal immigrants came here to work and they did, and finally 5) not every person of the same race is here illegally. I live in a predominantly different race culture and 95% of the citizens here are here legally. In all of these, our school system just didn't stand a chance.

Charlene R.
Charlene Rush7 years ago

Maybe, I should take that YES vote back. I'm not against commercials, if the commercials are for providing healthy alternatives for children's needs.

It boils down to one subject. Do you, or do you not want your children to eat healthy lunches and perform well in school, to improve their livelyhood.

This is not a laborious question.

If you want Big Business out of your schools, show it, by supporting good nutrition.

Norm C.
Norm C7 years ago

Prop 13 "Tax Revolt" was a con game from the start. It was designed to shift property taxes from corporations onto the middle class. How?

Taxes are capped until a property is sold. Human beings tend to buy and sell their homes every 5 - 10 years. When that happens, new property assessment bring higher taxes.

Corporations buy each other and property all the time. But they have created devices that prevent the state from recognizing that the property has changed hands. No new assessments and no new tax bills.

And so the state's revenues shrink relative to the economy. And so the state starts cutting back where it can. But the demand for services keeps growing. Budget chaos.

All because the very, very rich and corporations do not want to pay their fair share.

Norm C.
Norm C7 years ago


They live in fantasy land. California had most of the best schools in the country 50 years ago. Then along came Jarvis and Gann and Prop 13. Now California has deficits the size of many countries. Now California has many of the worst schools in the country. Now California is making them worse still.

Thanks, Howard. Thanks, Ronnie.

There still is no such thing as a free lunch. You want a secure and prosperous life, you have to pay for the things that go into achieving that. You cannot be secure in a society dominated a few very rich who will not contribute to the common good and their neighbors while the vast majority is struggling just to survive, even if you are among the few very rich.

That is the stuff of economic collapse. That is the stuff of revolutions. That is purely selfish stupidity.

John C.
Past Member 7 years ago