Letter to the Editor: Keep Ads out of school

Guananí Gómez, Student

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           Every September, the Jostens Company comes to South High and gives each grade an hour-long assembly presentation. In these assemblies, the importance of graduation and going to college are stressed as ways to secure financial well being in the future. At first, this seems like a good message to tell teenagers repeatedly. But within the message of graduation is an advertisement: buy Jostens class rings and rent Jostens graduation gowns. Help us make you graduation special by spending money.
           The fact that Jostens’s not-so-covert advertising is allowed in our school is disturbing. Not only is the assumption that students’ only motivation to study are future financial gains insulting, but that we are taken out of class- taken away from learning time- by the school itself to be subjected to advertising is wrong.
           Public institutions should not allow the infiltration of corporate interests in students’ intellectual space. School is a place for learning how to think about and interact with the world. When advertising is allowed and even supported in school facilities, it interferes with the message of lifelong learning and the discovery of identity with a different message: the message that consumerism is more important than education in our society.
           Besides the yearly assembly, Jostens also features posters in the commons and hallways displaying expensive class rings. Jostens probably offers the school payment or discounted graduation robes in exchange for allowing them to advertise, but it does not seem worth the message being presented.
           As high school students, we are subjected to enough advertising. A recent study shows that the average person in the United States is exposed to 3,600 commercial messages every day. We are bombarded by constant media messages pressuring us to buy more products and use certain brands. Ads prey on people’s insecurities, distract them from discovering themselves, and waste time, effort, and money.
           Why should that be allowed in school?
           Advertising had gone beyond sports arenas, shopping malls, and television. In a deal with the Target Corporation, Bancroft Elementary received a substantial grant for a new library. A new library plastered with bull’s-eye symbols, that is. Target’s symbol is pasted onto the floor, on bookshelves, on the ceiling, and even on the inside cover of each new book. Walking into an elementary school library, where young children are supposed to discover the joy and value of reading, has become equivalent to walking into an advertisement.
           In an effort to capture the attention and brand loyalty of increasingly younger audiences, corporations have stepped over the line and begun to infiltrate the system responsible for a great part of future generations’ mental development: education. Instead of learning to discover themselves and develop academically, students are being exposed by public schools to advertisements that teach them to spend money and conform to media and corporate interests. Public schools should be provided enough government funding that they do not need to sell their students’ attention.

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