Is There No Place on Earth Without Ads?

In my book, I discuss ads showing up on people’s foreheads. Advertising on televisions in schools has raised controversies for some time, but now we have even more intrusive advertising. USA Today reports that a teacher in San Diego is selling ads to be placed on student’s exam booklets to make up for cuts in his copying budget.

Tom Farber gives a lot of tests. He’s a calculus teacher, after all. So when administrators at Rancho Bernardo, his suburban San Diego high school, announced the district was cutting spending on supplies by nearly a third, Farber had a problem. At 3 cents a page, his tests would cost more than $500 a year. His copying budget: $316. But he wanted to give students enough practice for the big tests they’ll face in the spring, such as the Advanced Placement exam.

“Tough times call for tough actions,” he says. So he started selling ads on his test papers: $10 for a quiz, $20 for a chapter test, $30 for a semester final.

A few days ago, I wrote about my doubts that the financial crunch might curtail consumption. Here we have a different paradoxical outcome, budget shortfalls leading to more exposure to advertising, deepening the ubiquity of these messages always carrying some sort of invitation. And although “Principal Paul Robinson says reaction has been “mixed,” but he notes, “It’s not like, ‘This test is brought to you by McDonald’s or Nike.’”, the effect is still deadening. It seems to me that students should not be distracted by any sort of extracurricular activity during exams, especially when the exercises are supposed to prepare them for the “big tests they’ll face in the spring.”

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