Adverts on School Buses? Hit the Road!

Health & Wellness on 02.02.12
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This one caught my eye, like a yellow school bus. When you see one of those, you stop, or slow down, depending on the circumstances. Those buses are full of kids. Young, impressionable kids. So it makes me a little bit nervous to see new talk of using school buses for advertisements.

It's one thing to see adverts on pubilc transit, with faces that sport drawn-on mustaches. But to advertise to kids on yellow school buses just seems to send the wrong message.

In Kentucky, there are plans to sell advertising on school buses, but opposition from organizations like consumer advocacy group Public Citizen.

Public Citizen recently sent a letter to the Kentucky Senate, saying that adverts on school buses would raise little revenue and undermine the schools' educational and child development mission.

The Kentucky House recently passed House Bill 30 to allow school boards to sell advertising on school buses. The letter urges the state's senators to vote against the legislation when it moves to their floor.

Minds for Sale

Agreed. Sure, public schools are suffering and low on funds, like many other sectors of the economy. But think about it: Aren't kids (and adults, mind you) exposed to enough advertising already (including corporate-sponsored school programs)?

Yes, schools could use the money generated by bus adverts to offset their transportation and other costs. But at what expense? And don't you suspect that any money generated might be followed by equal public funding losses? Remember state lotteries? They bring in money to schools ... to replace money that's since been rechanneled to other programs.

The minds of school kids should not be for sale. 

One More Thing

Can you imagine what kinds of ads would be sold? Probably candy, snacks and soft drinks.

"The content of advertising allowed on school buses under HB 30 would be left up to local school boards with the exception of political or campaign advertising and ads for tobacco, alcohol or sexually oriented businesses, which would be prohibited," according to Kentucky's government website.

"All ads would have to be located below the bus windows, behind the front wheel and then only in areas that would not interfere with the effectiveness of warning equipment and reflectors."

Right on. Candy, snacks, soft drinks. How about toys and movies, too? Ads are already being sold in some states, including Texas, Arizona, Colorado, Tennessee, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Utah, Nevada and Mexico. Other states are considering the idea, including Florida, Indiana, Missouri, New York, Rhode Island and Washington. Yuck.

Photo by Gerry Dincher

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