Normally I try to stick strictly to technology topics for this blog, but today is a bit different. In all of my podcasts and blogs, I typically cover all kinds of media, entertainment, and technology news, and while this blog mainly focuses on the tech end of that, today I want to rant about a media topic, in this particular case, advertising gone too far. Earlier today, Slashdot pointed me to a story from the USA Today about a teacher by the name of Tom Farber at a San Diego high school who is selling advertising space on his tests.
Mr. Farber says that his annual copy budget is $316 (the district cut the teacher’s supply budget by nearly 1/3) and yet he uses $500 worth of paper for the tests he gives out. What does he decide to do to help feed his copy budget? Sell advertising! Mr. Farber sells advertising on his tests at the rates of $10 an ad for a quiz, $20 for a chapter test and $30 for advertising on a final. He also says that 2/3 of the advertisers are the parents of the students, hoping to give their kids some encouragement while the rest is local businesses.
Maybe its just me, but this seems like a bad idea. While I will admit this is some clever thinking by the teacher to help save him from trying to have to pay money to make test copies for his students, students shouldn’t have to be bombarded with advertising while they are trying to focus on a test. Personally, I don’t want to start thinking about food in the middle of a test because I see an advertisement on the page for a local burger joint. With U.S. students already lagging behind much of the rest of the civilized world in education, we don’t need any help being distracted from getting an education.
While I don’t mind advertising in schools, I think it should be on places such as the bulletin board in the hall or in student newspapers and even bathrooms, but not in tests. There is a time and place for everything, and a test is not the place for advertising. I don’t even see how tests could be an effective form of marketing. Do you really want you business to be associated with that test that little Johnny failed? I know I wouldn’t!
Mr. Farber and teachers all around the country need to think a little harder on this. If you want to use advertising, do it in a more appropriate manner. Better yet, if you don’t want such a huge copy bill, try going paperless! Many schools around the country are going paperless, many giving students a laptop on which they can do their work. Whether you give students a laptop on which to work or take them to a computer lab to take their tests, there are better ways to keep from suffering the sting of a small copy budget than having to sell advertising on tests. If nothing else, at least give the students a minute or two before each test to whiteout the advertisements if they think they will be distracted by them. These are just a some ideas for ways to adjust to your budget.
I hope this idea doesn’t catch on around the country as it would be a bad sign for the continued deterioration of our educational system. I don’t hate advertising (well, sometimes I do), but there are some things that just shouldn’t be used as an advertising medium.