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Desperate times, desperate measures

October 6th, 2011

We are bombarded by advertisements. We see messages on TV, the Internet, magazines, newspapers, buses, etc. They tell us how we should look, what we should buy, and even what we should like.

For adults, this is annoying but not really a danger. I hate commercials, but I understand them. I know they don’t tell me some truth because I’ve been taught to analyze what people tell me.

Children don’t necessarily know this. They haven’t learned yet to not simply believe what they see. This is why many are against advertising in schools. They say children should have at least one place they can be creative and think for themselves without being harassed by messages telling them what to think.

This is the stance I’ve always had on the issue. Schools should always be a safe zone for students to explore new ideas and concepts, develop opinions and analytical skills and learn about themselves and the world. School should be the one place they don’t have to be bombarded with advertisements, but instead learn how to critically evaluate the messages they are shown.

My opinion, however, is for a perfect world where schools aren’t facing drastic cuts.

Some schools are looking to use advertising on school property to balance budgets so they don’t have to make such deep cuts to curriculum and social activities.

Some schools in North Carolina are allowing advertisements within their stadiums, and are thinking about expanding that to school buses.

WKYC Channel 3 News ran a story last week that some schools are allowing advertisements on lockers and in school cafeterias.

Is this too far? Is this harming students?

In a perfect world, I would say yes. However, the alternative may be worse.

All you need to do is look at Cleveland schools and their cuts.

Last year, the school district laid off more than 600 teachers and closed schools. This year, they recalled 300 of them to avoid making classes so large they would resemble many college seminar classes.

I think small classes are important – it’s one of the reasons I chose John Carroll. Small classes help prevent students from falling through the cracks.

However, this recall will require $11 million budget cuts. On the district’s chopping block are textbooks, preschool, athletics, security and transportation.

I know this must be a tough choice for school administrators, and it’s sad that it has come down to this. So, what is the right choice? I’m not sure there’s a win here. Small classes are important for struggling students, but textbooks should be up to date and schools as secure as possible. School should also be an all-around experience, and although athletics should not be the most important thing, they teach valuable skills and should be offered.

Facing a decision like this makes me reconsider my opinion of advertising. It should be a last resort, but when you’re cutting a student’s educational experience, it may be necessary.