Education, News

Should Ads Be Allowed In Schools?

Times are tough everywhere in the United States. School boards, unions and governments have been fighting for decades to ensure their budgets are balanced and to prevent more cuts. In the last few years, some schools think they have found a way to shield their schools from drastic cuts through advertising.

High schoolMany believe opening the school up to ads will help save their schools in the long run. It’s an alternative to endless school fundraisers, and a “deal with the commercial devil” that some are willing to deal with.

Where are ads appearing?

The use of advertisements in football stadiums and college arenas is not new. Sponsorship in sports venues has long been an accepted practice, as have ads that appear in school newspapers and yearbooks. Individuals can make a choice to avoid or ignore these advertisements, as they are not a part of daily school life for most students.

Recently, problems have cropped up with the addition, by some schools, of advertising on school buses. This began approximately 20 years ago in Colorado and spread from there to Texas, Arizona, Massachusetts, New Jersey and, more recently, Utah. And it hasn’t ended there. Since, advertisements have spread to actual school buildings, and are slated for and already appearing on some lockers and in student lunch rooms or cafeterias. Ads are becoming a prominent presence in schools.

Some schools, desperate to stave off cuts, are looking to place advertisements any and everywhere, including the roof of the school. After all, schools have walls, floors and ceilings. But, is this method of remaining within a slowly decreasing budget acceptable?

Arguments for advertising

What are the advantages of what some call the “Googlization” or franchising of American schools? Proponents generally base their arguments on one particular aspect – economic or money. They state:

  • Advertising money is easy cash
  • The schools can control which advertising is acceptable and which is not
  • Ads provide a break for teachers and parents who are faced with multiple fundraisers each school year
  • They’re an alternative to cash donations from school “patrons”
  • Advertisements prevent cut-backs

It is, ultimately, about saving and even making money for the school.

Arguments against advertising

Yet, not everyone thinks advertising in schools is the right thing to do. Many think this is entirely the wrong message to send to their children. Some see it as wrong for a number of reasons, including:

  • Ads exploit a captive audience. Companies are buying the purchasing power of their children and, through them, their parents.
  • They’re unavoidable on a day-to-day basis
  • Children are vulnerable to advertising
  • Schools should be about learning not commercialism
  • At home, parents can control their child’s exposure to advertising. If ads are in school, they can’t.

Children are already inundated with advertising. Studies indicate middle children remember more jingles than news from watching television broadcasts. Do schools really need to add more media to students’ days? And if so, are teachers willing or able to counteract it with classes on the role that advertising in our lives?


With school districts continuing to suffer the threat of budget cuts, this may remain a solution for schools across the country. Is it a slippery slope or a necessary reality given the current state of education in America?

Photo credit: janniechien / morguefile

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The Author

Mary Brown

Mary Brown

Mary Brown has enjoyed writing about education and finance related topics, such as scholarships, student loans, college, vocational degree choices, and adult education since the early 2000's. She also writes about school budgets, accreditation and fundraising.