March 2nd, 2012

Across the country, school advertising seen to boost education budget - but at what cost?

By Nina Terrero
NBC Latino

In a trend thatís sweeping the country, public school districts are selling commercial advertising space on school property as a way to compensate for funds lost to state budget cuts. Itís a measure academics and researchers say can have a deliberate, negative influence on Latino students without earning significant revenue.

The Humble Independent School District in Houston has sold the naming rights to every part of their football stadium, and their buses already carry ads for the Houston Astros and many other companies. In Coloradoís Jefferson County, school report cards contain both semester grades and corporate ad space. And in a move that proves commercial ads arenít confined to school athletic fields, public schools in Maryland and Arizona are hosting banner ad space on their school websites.

Public schools see this as an opportunity to raise funds after the recent budget crisis, but it comes at a price.  A study released this month by consumer advocacy group Public Citizen suggests that an increasingly commercialized public education generates low revenues and exposes students to unhealthy fast foods and creates distraction to instructional values. Furthermore, Public Citizen examined 25 of the largest school districts across the country and found that the revenue generated in the three largest districts in the country Ė Houston, Dallas and Cypress-Fairbanks in Texas Ė made up less than 1 percent of their overall budgets.

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