Selling Ads on School Buses

Ads Driving in Necessary Funding

While it may not be the ideal solution to nationwide budget cuts, selling ad space on school buses is a shrewd means of helping the struggling public school systems.

According to Alpha Media, a company that manages school bus advertising, a district with a fleet of 250 buses can make nearly $1 million over the span of four years.

Sure, the ad revenue may not spare school districts from the financial strain of teacher salaries, new textbooks and updated technologies, but it is in the students’ best interest for the school to make use of every potential revenue source for the sake of maintaining the latest in classroom supplies and attracting the best teachers.

The ads can be used to offset the cost of maintaining the buses themselves. Florida’s 38th School, for instance, is using revenue from the bus advertisements to pay for fuel costs to ensure that students have a way to get to school. By eliminating these costs, schools can look to put money toward other important areas.

States like New Jersey, whose legislators approved a similar bill in January, are drafting guidelines for content and size restrictions. In accordance with federal law, advertisements for products as alcohol and tobacco, and those containing sexual content, cannot be displayed in areas where less than 70% of the audience is underage. In fact, most ads seen on school buses are purchased by banks, dentists and insurance companies — not quite the evil corporate giants that the con-campaign might have one believe to be indoctrinating innocent young minds.

— Madeline Mann

Associate Opinion Editor

Selling Out is Never Worth the Price

Utah recently joined the growing list of states — which includes Colorado, Texas, Arizona and others — that allow advertisements on school buses. Participating school districts claim fiscal hardships to force them into signing this law into effect. However, children are already bombarded with advertisements daily, and institutionalizing the practice is only bound to produce a generation of consumers even more brainwashed than the last.

The modest gains that school bus advertising will provide — $1,000 per bus per year — won’t compensate for the mixed messages schools will send by introducing advertisements to an environment meant to educate young children.

The bill’s opponents, such as organizations like Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, have rightly called into question the possibility of a slippery slope: Some schools have advertised in campus parking lots, or in the case of Florida, inside the buses themselves. These advertisements tell children to buy junk food, which only contributes to the issue of obesity in elementary schools and detract from the lessons the schools themselves try to teach.

Proponents of the law — mostly advertising agencies — state that the ads are meant to target adult drivers who might pass a school bus on their daily commute. Yet, these ads will be what students see every morning next to their school’s name, which can create the impression that their school supports the products advertised. Public schools’ current financial bind forces them to consider avenues such as selling advertisements to raise funds, but the small impact the ads will have on public school budgets won’t outweigh their adverse psychological impact on students.

— Margaret Yau

Opinion Editor

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