School Sells Ad Space On Letters Sent Home To Parents

A MA elementary school is selling ad space on the backs of permission slips and notices sent home to parents. It’s better than another bake sale, say officials, who have pledged to keep the advertising appropriate for families. No ads for alcohol, tobacco, political causes or tattoo parlors will be allowed. Is this any different than ads in the back of yearbooks? Or one more tumble down the slippery slope of commercial encroachment in our public schools? Take our poll and sound off in the comments.

Cash-strapped school puts advertising on letters sent home to parents [KSDK]


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  1. AI says:

    Seriously America? Capitalism is awesome and all, but with stuff like this children will be going to ‘Taco Bell Elementary School’ in the near future.

    • axhandler1 says:

      “Your kids are starving. Carl’s Jr. believes no child should go hungry. You are an unfit mother. Your children will be placed in the custody of Carl’s Jr. Carl’s Jr… ‘Fuck You, I’m Eating.'”

    • pentium4borg says:

      This reminds me of Futurama’s “Taco Bellevue Hospital.”

      • AI says:

        I keep thinking of “In the future, all restaurants are Taco Bell” from Demolition Man. So I guess in the future, all schools will be Taco Bell too. I’d imagine they’ll teach you how to work at Taco Bell. Very streamlined.

    • humphrmi says:

      Until and unless we as a society agree to fully fund our schools to a level that provides our children with an education that allows them to compete in the global marketplace, Taco Bell Elementary School may be our only choice.

      • Rachacha says:

        OK Class, Open up your text books to page 47. “How the secret Sauce helped to serve over 1 billion burgers and helped Washington cross the Deleware”


        OK Class, please proceed to room 347 for Home Economics where you will learn today the secret of the 11 herbs and spices, and following that will be computer class where we will each have an opportunity for hands on experience on the cash registers.

      • Erika'sPowerMinute says:

        Yes! Let’s give them more money to waste on inflated salaries & bennies for administrators and to piss away on constantly revised textbooks pushed by the publishing industry! I’m all in!

        • sonneillon says:

          You want people with masters degrees and doctorates as teachers and admins then you got to pay them. Otherwise you get people with 2 year and 4 year degrees. That’s the free market in action.

          • Amnesiac85 says:

            One of the most well written comments I’ve seen on this site.

            • OutPastPluto says:

              I doubt the extra letter in people’s titles help anything. Beyond the teaching degree itself, I think I could count on one hand the number of teachers I ever personally encountered with a genuine graduate degree. So the idea that you need to spend mad money for advanced degrees is rather ludicrous. A relevant undergraduate degree would be a welcome change.

        • humphrmi says:

          I’ll thank you to not put words into my comment that I didn’t make.

          “fully fund our schools to a level that provides our children with an education that allows them to compete in the global marketplace”

          Does not equal

          “inflated salaries & bennies for administrators and to piss away on constantly revised textbooks pushed by the publishing industry! “

          If you need some help with language comprehension, perhaps you should have gone to a better funded school.

    • macoan says:

      If it would allow the school to have more funds – better paid teachers – supplies needed – all to be able to teach my child better….

      …. I’m all fine with my child going to the “AFLAK Taco Bell Verizon Elementary Best Buy School”

      • LucasM says:

        For decades our country has been able to afford to educate our children… but now that we are richer as a nation than ever before, we find our basic services needing sponsorship from corporations. Perhaps the answer isn’t to accept this but to insist that we appropriately tax the wealthy and the corporations that have drained our economy to such an extent?

        Why do we pay corporate farms to not grow crops or subsidize corn? How about rescinding the Billions of Dollars of tax breaks given to gas and oil corporations? And when your Representative or Senator supports extending the Bush tax cuts to the wealthy this coming election, maybe we could tell them “no” by voting for their opponent.

        If you don’t realize that growing gap between the wealthy and the rest of us results in a very real price to our society, then you need look no further than the degradation and commercialization of our schools for the proof.

      • Hooray4Zoidberg says:

        Yeah that’s fine until the mandatory 2nd period History of Verizon class kicks in.

  2. Remmy75 says:

    If it means one less fund raiser I have to stick my family and friends with, I am all for it!

    • Dover says:

      Me, too, I just worry about the deluge of more send-home items as schools decide they need to make more ad revenue.

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        I can imagine this will quickly turn to weekly mailings, which one-liners in size 4 font such as “Don’t forget the potluck Oct 15th” buried within a 4-page ad.

    • CTrees says:

      Exactly. Our schools are not sufficiently funded, and so long as it stays tasteful and appropriate (seriously, back of permission slips? shouldn’t bother people), I’m just fine with this.

      As to slippery slopes of appropriateness… I still laugh at the fact that every year, the biggest local gun shop got a full page ad in my high school’s year book.

      • 99 1/2 Days says:

        They are funded sufficiently, just not managed sufficiently.

      • AustinTXProgrammer says:

        How come we have a great local private school subsiding on $6500/yr/student, a great suburban district on $7500, and urban districts fail at $10,000 or more?

        It’s not all about funding. Unfortunately I don’t have a solution. The solution may be an involvement program that needs more money, but money itself isn’t the solution.

        • JJ! says:

          Well, I imagine that the cost of supporting a larger quantity of students, bussing them all, and keeping up a large building in an urban environment makes that money stretch much less far than it otherwise would.

        • RadarOReally has got the Post-Vacation Blues says:

          Urban schools have different challenges. They’re dealing with a larger percentage of students from poor families, larger crime numbers, higher traffic. I don’t think you can compare the costs. Just like you can’t live in NYC for the same cost as living in East Cornfield, Nebraska.

    • mythago says:

      It doesn’t mean one less fundraiser. You think the schools will give that up just because they ALSO got an ad on a permission slip? If your friend Dave owes you $5000 and you get a raise at work, do you tell Dave he’s off the hook? No.

      • nybiker says:

        In a similar train of thought: why do concerts and other events have sponsors? Certainly not to allow for lower prices for us consumers! No. It’s for more profit to the organizers. But the attendees have to see the ads plastered in programs or on the concert stage. My solution is to not attend.
        And the biggest govt lie: The lottery is going to education. No, it’s not. It goes into the general fund and education’s slice of the pie gets smaller every year.
        Some museum (or a zoo, I don’t recall) here in NYC has an ad campaign going on right now in the NYC subways. Not only is the museum’s (or zoo’s) name mentioned (as one would expect), but so is the logo and name of some corporate ‘sponsor’. But yet I still have to pay to go to the joint. So, is it an ad for the corporation or the joint. Beats me. But I’m not going.
        And another classic is the corporate sponsorship of virtually all the amusement park rides. I paid my ticket to get in. Why do I need to see an ad for a cell phone company?
        IIRC BP ‘sponsored’ some zoo or exhibit somewhere here in the US, and after the spill, there was concern that people might not visit or otherwise support the place because of the BP connection. Gee, ya think. Associations are a 2-way street. If you want a sponsor’s money, then be prepared for not only the good (as in “so-and-so is a proud sponsor of This Old House”) and the bad (“Enron Field”). Of course, every sponsor says they are a proud one (that’s just another annoying term – like all the price signs at the fruit stand entitled ‘special’).
        I think the risk is a great one when it comes to associating one’s organization to another one. My decision to not buy products and services from companies that are corporate johns ends up hurting a zoo or museum if one of those johns is listed as either “a” or “the” sponsor of a given museum.

        • RadarOReally has got the Post-Vacation Blues says:

          How do you know what the ticket prices would be if the event wasn’t sponsored? Do you have some Dr. Who-type ability to see all possible universes and outcomes at one time?

      • RadarOReally has got the Post-Vacation Blues says:

        So you equate fundraisers with the community “owing” the schools the money raised, just as Dan owes the person in your metaphor?

  3. Hi_Hello says:

    they should put a coupon in each letter.

  4. paoloacca says:

    or how about them firing one less teacher :)

  5. StuffThingsObjects says:

    Makes sense so long as the add is small and appropriate. But if it turns into a huge add with the information being just a small side note then maybe it’s a problem.

    Also, I don’t see how commercial encroachment in schools in any worse than the commercial encroachment in every other social facet.

    • LucasM says:

      The ads may start small but they’ll get bigger… Once you get used to a compromise, what’s a bit more?

      Ads have one primary purpose… to sell you something you would otherwise have not bought. Anytime we allow advertisements to take over a new place in our lives we are increasing the influence that corporations have in our thought processes. It’s a known physiological fact that a message that is repeated often enough becomes “truth”… just look to the republican political strategy of the past decade.

      There must come a point where we stop allowing corporations to have undue influence in our lives. After all the money to fund our schools hasn’t disappeared, it’s been taken away from our government and put into the hands of our corporations thru tax “reform” and other manipulation of our economic policies.

      If you already understand that “commercial encroachment” is “worse” then why allow more? Especially when it will influence our children.

      • StuffThingsObjects says:

        When I spoke of ‘worse’, I didn’t mean to imply that I felt it was bad, only referring to the opposition’s thought of it being bad. It’s a note that more than likely any child is going to ignore and the parent is either going to ignore or use as a weapon/teaching instrument against said child, so the idea of ad space doesn’t sound totally lucrative and would probably make more financial sense for local businesses only to use the space. I don’t think seeing ‘Suarez Funeral Home’ is going to harm anyone.

        What I am adamantly against are Ad’s featuring children and marketing specifically towards children, but then again I just hate toys. Ever step on a LEGO? Those things smart!

  6. ajkilroy24 says:

    I personally do not see a problem with this. When I was in HS the school was in drastic need of repairs and was consistantly denied money for these repairs. If these ads are family friendly and can help improve the quality of the education provided to the students without any increase in costs to the families then go for it!

  7. Dover says:

    Parents should sell ads that they could include when they return the permission slips!

  8. strijder says:

    Why not put advertisements on the school buses? On school uniforms? The sidewalks outside the student pick-up/drop off areas? Think of all that “wasted” space!

    • Bativac says:

      Actually, ads on the back of school uniform shirts would be awesome.

      I think all school auditoriums should sell naming rights. Imagine having an assembly at the Built Ford Tough cafetorium!

  9. aja175 says:

    Well somebody has to pay for the schools to do what they do (or don’t do), I’d rather see an ad on the back of a reportcard than have my school taxes go up

  10. humphrmi says:

    How about if I don’t like it, but I don’t think it’s a big deal?

    • ~Ian~ says:

      My exact thought! haha I’m not really a fan of it, but schools need all the extra money they can get. So not really a big deal.

  11. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Or they could ya know, increase taxes and guarantee the increase goes to school funds.

    Assuming my state tax is 8%, I would support a 1% tax increase as long as a 12.5% increase in school education would follow (1/8 = 12.5%).

    • Bativac says:

      I would absolutely not support another tax increase. If the schools can sell ad space to help pay for things then go for it.

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        Which is the attitude that has destroyed the public school system.

        • Erika'sPowerMinute says:

          Bullshit. It’s parents who are too lazy or ignorant to parent properly, namby-pamby politically correct emphasis on “feelings” and “emotional intelligence” and top-heavy bureaucracy administering this mess that has ruined America’s school systems.

          • Cicadymn says:

            100000% this.

            Parents don’t want to parent anymore. Their kid doesn’t want to do homework and learn? They don’t give a shit. The kids can either sit infront of the TV or go outside and start raising some hell.

            Saw a 15 year old girl walking through my apartment smoking and talking loudly on a cellphone last weekend. Disturbed me.

            Personal Responsibility is a thing of the past. In 10 years, it will become an Oxymoron, and in 50 it won’t even exist as a concept anymore.

    • Pax says:

      Not possible, at least here in Massachusetts.

      You see, here, the Cities and Towns pay for the schools. And their only income is property taxes.

      Which is capped at 2.5%, without an Override vote. Which itself requires a plurality, AND, IIRC also a Quorum, at a town meeting. And then, the override is only good for one year. So if a town needed a “permanent” increase in property taxes, they’d have to pull off a not-so-easy balot initiative every year.

      And now, here’s the trick: most property owners, do NOT have school-aged children. Most people who show up regularly to town meetings, are property owners. So … over-rides on behalf of the schools, often fail.

      It really sucks, but we’ve been stuck with “proposition 2.5” for decades now.

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        I’m in CO and we have TABOR, which guarantees any taxation that happens to exceed inflation + population increase is automatically earkmarked for education or to be refunded to the taxpayers.

        Keep in mind I said taxes, though I guess I implied sales tax. You can do the same thing with property taxes. And there’s ntohing stopping voter’s to create a secondary education tax increase via sales tax in addition to property tax revenue.

        Legislation is pretty bogged down, so in some cases it’s going to be hard and/or complicated. But I am willing to increase my taxes when it directly goes to the school system.

      • ExtraCelestial says:

        Just move to a DC suburb! Here in Montgomery County, Maryland we not only have the privilege of enjoying an exorbitant state income tax, we also get hit with premium county and city income taxes! Yay! And yes, we still get to pay property and sales taxes.

        Granted we also have one of the best public school systems in the nation (which I guess is kind of the point) but at times it’s kind of ridiculous.

  12. BrianneG says:

    I don’t have any problem with it. Is it really that different than selling ads for the yearbook or school newspaper?

  13. vitajex says:

    Just sell the kids.

    • Mike says:

      As a former educator who was in charge of detention at my school, I can tell you that some parents would actually consider your idea…and I might encourage them. To quote one parent who had three great kids and one awful one, “three out of four ain’t bad!”

      Yeah I said it, some kids suck.

  14. Tim says:

    Ads in yearbooks are on the product of an extracurricular activity, raising funds for said extracurricular activity (and likely sold by students participating in said extracurricular activity).

    This is advertising on an essential school communication, paying for general school funds. That’s the job of taxes. If the people in a school district are unwilling to pay for public education, there’s something seriously wrong.

    • Evil_Otto would rather pay taxes than make someone else rich says:

      There is something seriously wrong, all right. The problem is that the people who vote aren’t the people with kids, they’re the retirees that scream “FIXED INCOME! FIXED INCOME!” like a deranged parrot on crack every time someone DARES to suggest using more tax income to improve the (crumbling) schools.

      Oh, they’ll pay for palatial senior centers, and so forth, but if anyone under 55 wants something from the town, well, they’re fucked.

      • 339point4 says:

        This is my very biggest pet peeve!

        In my town, those retirees enjoy a fabulous community center that caters to their every whim – paid for by our taxes. Yet, they grumble about having to pay taxes for our schools! Seriously, old people write letters suggesting that the public schools should be privately funded only by the people who have children. The hell?
        Do they not realize that their property value is directly tied to the quality of the schools in the district? Your million dollar house that you’re bitching about paying taxes for in order to support your community infrastructure is only worth that much in part BECAUSE the schools are still considered good and make people want to move here.

        Of course, it won’t be like that for much longer since it seems like the anti-school voters currently outnumber the pro-school voters, but that’s okay with them since by the time their incessant grumbling has finally managed to completely undermine our school system, they’ll be dead.

        • 339point4 says:

          Oh, and one last thing I forgot to mention: In this town, the “senior citizens” pay a greatly reduced tax rate anyway. So they’re happy to have the rest of us fund their huge senior center (complete with on-call shuttle bus to take them where ever they want to go), but god forbid the schools ask for anything.

  15. Warai says:

    With so many advertisements literally everywhere these days I have begun to simply tune them all out. It isn’t hard to do as they all use the same design techniques allowing you to automatically filter out images that fit their general form. Sure it uglies thing up a bit, but for the most part I can ignore them all. Part of me hopes that as everyone starts doing just that advertisers will reign in a little bit and stop pushing quite so many ads out. I think if ads were restricted to very particular places they would hold more weight and in turn be more effective because people would be less inclined to mentally block them all out. That probably won’t happen, but a man can dream.

  16. TheGreySpectre says:

    Makes sense to me, especially since people tend not to vote for tax increases to pay for schools.

  17. Mike says:

    As someone who once worked as a teacher let me say this: What are we saying about our priorities when we pay teachers so little and under-find our schools?

    I yearn for the day when we put advertisements on our bombs that say: “This cluster bomb brought to you by United Healthcare. Killing people at home and now abroad!”

  18. Excuse My Ambition Deficit Disorder says:

    I don’t have a problem with it…I would go one step further and have coupons on the back. Similar to what you find on register receipts.

    To those who don’t like this…how about they jack up your school taxes or fire a teacher because you don’t like the idea of advertising on a piece of paper. Don’t be a hypocrite people…How many of you advertise the shoes, jeans and even car dealerships for free…and you don’t even realize it.

  19. theycallmeGinger says:

    No ads for alcohol, tobacco, political causes or tattoo parlors will be allowed


  20. Beeker26 says:

    What about ads for hookers?

    • ElizabethD says:

      A few years back, a local PTO here in RI published a guidebook to the elementary school and sold ads in it to local businesses. Then all hell broke loose — because a very prominent ad in the front of the book was for a local sex-toy store. But wait, it gets better. The owner of the store was the president of said PTO! LOL That was quite a dust-up.

  21. 339point4 says:

    As a member of the PTO, I put together my daughters’ school directory and allow advertising by parent-owned local businesses to help offset the costs of printing 300+ copies of the directory. The ads have to be appropriate, associated with a parent/guardian of a student in the school, and cost $20 each.

    The only problem I see with this MA school’s fund-raising idea is that it’s not raising money for a parent/teacher organization, but instead to beef up the school’s budget. Schools should not have to rely on this sort of thing to make ends meet.

  22. momtimestwo says:

    Our school is way beyond this. The first Thursday each month is “Chick-Fil-A Day” where they “encourage” all the kids to wear red school attire shirts to support Chick-Fil-A, and of course eat there that night. I’m dead serious.

    • nybiker says:

      Please explain the red attire thing with the joint. I live in NYC and am not familiar with the chain (well, I know that they are a corporate john in the college bowl game arena – Chick-fil-A Bowl). Does wearing red get them a free chick or something?

      • momtimestwo says:

        No free food, it’s to remind all the kids to eat there that night. We never have eaten there, and I make sure he doesn’t wear a red school shirt that day. they even sometimes have a guy in a cow costume out in front of the school in the morning that says “eat more chicken”. I’m glad the school gets more money, I just wish they didn’t have to in this way.

  23. theSuperman says:

    “This detention slip brought to you by Slurm!”

  24. bishophicks says:

    I hate the fund raisers. The food items are bad, the “your child’s artwork on a magnet or coffee cup” junk is pointless and we have a house full of books and don’t need or want any more. I would love it if they would send something at the beginning of the year that said, “For a donation of $100 you can avoid all fundraising notices and programs for the coming school year.” I would gladly write a check – the school would get way more than they would raise from me otherwise and I would avoid the junk mail, junk food and dumb trinkets.

    • Erika'sPowerMinute says:

      You do know you can totally do that, right? Just send in a check for a donation and pitch the rest of the fundraising literature in the trash. Fundraisers aren’t mandatory, you know.

      • LadyTL says:

        They make them seem that way to the kids as well as making the kids feel bad if they don’t earn enough for whatever cheap toy they get for selling stuff.

  25. Tvhargon says:

    I remember my school had a company give them literally several tons of paper with their logo in the corner as an advertisement. It took them like 4 years to go through it all.

  26. TabrisLee says:

    Schools need to make extra money somehow. Apparently nobody wants to spend good money on education anymore, so administrators need to do what they can. I can’t say it’s my favorite idea, but if a school gets funding slashed because of a few bad test scores (which is ridiculous) they’ve gotta come up with money somehow.

    Start campaigning to pitch in a few extra bucks to keep the teachers well-paid and the students well-educated and this wouldn’t even be an issue.

  27. LadyTL says:

    It’s not just a lack of money that is causing bad schools. Too many bad teachers are allowed to stay while good teachers who are new get fired, way too much administrative overhead in places that eats up the budget, money being spent in all the wrong places (i.e. for expensive sports programs or field trips instead of school repairs and supplies), over-reliance on standardized testing as if that is the only way to teach a child, as well as a lack of parental involvement with their children. Plenty of schools get tons of money and are still failing. This is not a problem you can just throw money at and hope it fixes itself.

  28. Ryan L says:

    Why not? It’s hardly intrusive and will provide an injection of money into the education system. I think it’s a good, creative, harmless way of making a few extra bucks.

  29. prismatist says:

    I think that school is going to be sending more and more notes home with the kids.

  30. damageddude says:

    My son’s school is trying paperless notices this year. Instead of physical notices parents have the option of signing up to receive them electronically (we get an email to download the the form).

  31. AngryK9 says:

    I don’t like it.

    Then again, it is better than putting them on school busses…that’s worse.

  32. ElizabethD says:

    Impossible to comment without knowing what the ads were for.

    But as a four-time veteran of all those wrapping-paper and candy-bar fundraisers, I say LET THEM SELL ADS. Stop making kids and their parents sell crap to raise money — and alienating every friend and relative within handout distance.

  33. tricky1 says:

    I work at a newspaper and we on occasion do the newsletters/school newspapers for the local schools and I have noticed(shockingly) that there are ads in those. It’s kind of disheartening.

  34. OnePumpChump says:

    Ads in the back of the yearbook made me decide that I would never, EVER want to be an ad copy writer. Because I was writing them, and I hated it. FUCK.

  35. crazydavythe1st says:

    and naturally, many of the same people complaining abut advertising on school materials are also the same ones that complain about tax increases when revenues are down.

  36. bluejena says:

    As a recently laid-off-due-to-budget-cuts middle school chorus teacher, I’m for it.

  37. Andrew360 says:

    I don’t exactly like it… but if it saves the school money on printing costs then it may be worth it.

    It depends on how far you take it… slippery slope, yes. Completely evil? No.

  38. nickcv says:

    Who can tell me the atomic weight of bolognium?

    • Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

      I guess 42. After all, that is the answer to life, the universe, and everything. Bologium is a part of everything, right?

  39. Sanshie says:

    OK with me if it keeps those Boosterthon Fun Run folks away!

  40. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    No big deal.
    Way back in the 1960’s my report cards had an advert and graphics for the City and District Savings Bank.

  41. momtimestwo says:

    Also, just to add to my earlier post…. my daughter just brought home her “Discovery Education Assessment”, with the Discovery Channel logo on it.

  42. ngallion says:

    Totally not a big deal. Corporations have a huge stake in the education of our young people because they’re going to be the ones hiring them in a few years. If a school has no cash, it will impact the quality of a child’s education, so why not let a business make an investment in the future?

  43. UnicornMaster says:

    as long as it doesn’t overwhelm, confuse or bury the message I think its fine. Schools don’t have enough money as it is.