LA Will Plaster Schools With Corporate Logos to Make Some Cash

I don't know whether to be sad or infuriated (or both) about this: The New York Timesreports that the Los Angeles school district is facing massive budget cuts, and the solution they've come up with is to actively seek out corporate sponsorships.

The district is no doubt in dire straits, having had an incredible $1.5 billion (with a b) cut from its budget over the past three years. And apparently the incoming governor, Jerry Brown, has threatened to cut funding for the district even further. That's the sad part.

The infuriating part is that every single member of the LA school board voted in favor of a plan to seek corporate sponsors for the schools, including "the possibility of arranging school visits to pass out samples of approved food products or placing the donors’ logos in school cafeterias. Or perhaps they might rather have the naming rights for the Academic Decathlon or Drill Team championships."

I'm certain there's no easy solution to this problem. But really? Logos and naming rights? Not one member of the board has a problem with LA's children playing football at a "Nike Stadium"?

In fairness, at least one board member is uncomfortable with the idea, but voted for it because he didn't see an alternative. “The implications of us doing this are really disconcerting and really bothers me to my core,” said school board member Steve Zimmer. “The reality is public funding is not funding public education."

Also, the district will have limits:

No alcohol, tobacco or firearms can be promoted. No companies that promote high-calorie or high-fat foods will get play, either.

“You’ll never see any Coca-Cola signs sponsoring anything here,” [district director of partnerships Melissa] Infusino said. She said that she had already received several inquiries from companies about sponsorships, though she declined to name names.

But this is still a deeply troubling concept. Although the LA school district is not the first to go after corporate cash, it is by far the largest to do so, according to the Times. And if the plan brings in $18 million, as it's expected to, a lot more cash-strapped districts could start following in LA's footsteps.

AlterNet / By Lauren Kelley

Posted at December 16, 2010, 4:52am

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