Sweetening Public School Budgets: Satire

StudentWe at the American Unfettered Markets Association are excited to see the nation's public schools beginning to augment their incomes with corporate sponsorship, specifically, the sort of exclusive soft-drink contracts that universities have been signing for years.

The alarmist forces of the status quo are well entrenched, and we applaud those local school boards that can stand up to brigades of reactionary parents, short-sighted physicians and so-called child development experts.

Unimaginative educators have for too long harbored a prejudice against teaching the benefits of healthy greed. We believe privatization can only improve public education, directly by monetary profit and indirectly by teaching kids lifelong lessons in sales, marketing and the bottom line.

The public-sector revolution that began with Ronald Reagan and came of age with Channel One will grow under the leadership of George W. Bush to sweep out the detritus of the Old School and usher in an era of more effective public education.

In the wonderful collaborative spirit of school vouchers and exclusive soda deals, we at AUFMA would like to offer suggestions for further public-private partnerships and other enterprising solutions that will benefit the schools while preserving the low tax rates that are the very cornerstone of American democracy.

The Association's Brave New World Committee would like to offer the following proposals:

(1) Catering contracts with fast-food chains: The obvious next step. Imagine the bidding war for exclusive rights to school lunch.

"After topping off fries and a shake with a pint of carbonated caffeine, what could be better than a Ritalin to get a student's attention back on learning?"
(2) Dedicated buildings and company murals: How to remember which is F-Building and which is D? Much easier with a profitable branding, like the American Express Technology Wing or the Guess Jeans Vocational Building. And even if students have a hard time with names, no one could mistake the gigantic swoosh on the side of the gym.

(3) Instant Drivers Permit vending machines: This state-local partnership would reduce the precious dollars wasted teaching kids to drive and yield immediate cash for education. What sort of premium would your teenager be willing to pay for an instant permit? Legislators take heed: Lower the driving age for immediate benefits.

(4) Pharmaceutical vending machines: After topping off fries and a shake with a pint of carbonated caffeine, what could be better than a Ritalin to get a student's attention back on learning? For adolescent girls depressed about persistent weight gain, Prozac; for anxious test-takers, a mild dose of Valium.

(5) Soft porn vending machines: The non-pharm way to redirect that excess energy. Exclusive contracts with Playboy or Penthouse yield even more money for education. Also helps prevent teen pregnancy.

(6) Textbook decoder vending machines: Once schools begin using textbooks with built-in advertising, these handy gadgets will allow freshmen, for example, to access their Proctor & Gamble Life Science textbooks, or juniors to read their United Airlines American Literature. Having these machines on school grounds means a lost one can be replaced with an easy credit card or ATM transaction.

(7) Private school information and voucher stations: Here, kids will be able to check out schools where public funding is not a threat to their academic needs. Easy-to-use computer stations can dispense a tuition certificate for the cost of private school less the cash value of the state's voucher (about $4,000-$10,000 for most high school students). The voucher station computes eligibility based on IQ, income level, bloodline and grade-point average, to guard against potentially embarrassing turn-downs at the school of choice.

(8) Cigarette vending machines: As state-run institutions, public schools can restock cigarettes tax-free and sell them at full retail.

(9) Internet stock-trading stations: An important tool for teaching kids how to grow their net worth. The school enhances its own bottom line with a percentage of every trade.

(10) Raffle-ticket vending machines: Buy a chance to win free activities fees, textbooks and athletic gear. Losers must pay for those materials, which raises money while also thinning out participants in expensive extracurricular activities.

(11) State lottery machines: For low-income students who persist in getting a public education -- what optimism! -- here's an important object lesson. Feed this machine $2 and you'll get a long hyphenated number you can use to surprise your teacher on the next math test.

Odds of winning if your parents can't afford private school are 1 in 7.1 million.

Hart Matthews is a writer in Durham, N.C.

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