Taco Bell Ads in our Cafeterias

This is a continuation of my last two posts on corporate sponsorship in our schools.  If you haven’t had a chance to read them yet, the earlier one is located here.

Tonya Weathersbee continued, by saying, “Recently Sen. Steve Wise, R-Jacksonville, joined his colleagues Sen. Bill Montfort, D-Tallahassee, and Rep. Brian Nelson, R-Apopka, in filing legislation that would allow ads on school buses and on state trails and greenways.

For the most part, the lawmakers see the ads as a way to generate revenue without increasing taxes or fees.  Besides that, they say school districts don’t have to allow the ads if they don’t want to.

But after seeing school districts scrape and claw to hang onto teachers and staff, and after seeing parents cobble together fundraisers to save sports programs and other things that enrich youths’ education, it’s hard to imagine many districts passing on plastering a Taco Bell ad on the side of the school bus if it means more money for them.

The temptation to allow school bus advertising will probably be great in larger urban school districts such as Duval; districts filled with poor schools with transient populations, struggling PTAs and a dearth of business partners.

Besides, if that legislation passes, Florida won’t be alone.

Six states allow advertising on school buses.  In 2008, according to USA Today, the Jefferson County school District in Colorado became the first to allow the ads; it signed a four-year, $500,000 contract with First Bank of Colorado.

I guess desperate times call for desperate measures.  And that’s exactly what the school bus ad trend is.

I hope lawmakers will keep that in mind as they craft the legislation that allows it.

When I opined about this almost 9 years ago, I said I didn’t like the fact that the students, most of whom are inundated with commercialization from the television and the Internet and from trips to the mall, would be exposed to more of the same when they stepped onto a school bus.

Which is why, even today, I still don’t relish the idea of ads on school buses or on state trails or greenways.

I questioned whether there would be guidelines on the types of ads permitted on the buses.  It would, for example, send a contradictory message on the problem of childhood obesity if soft drink ads were plastered on the buses.”

Is your school district experiencing a similar dilemma?  We would love to hear about it.  Just click on the comment link.

Read the rest of what Tonya (and I) have to say about this issue next Tuesday.

Coming Tuesday:  Should Taco Bell be In or Out?