Citizens’ Campaign for Commercial-Free Schools
Seattle School Board
Candidate Questionnaire, 2001
The Citizens’ Campaign for Commercial-Free Schools is a local, non-profit organization of over 850 citizens, based in Seattle, Washington. Our mission is to protect children and youth from commercial influences at school.
The following questionnaire will help our electoral committee make election recommendations to our Board of Directors. A copy of this questionnaire has been mailed to all candidates for Seattle School Board. Our ratings will be shared with our membership, coalition partners*, other civic organizations, media outlets, and you.
We appreciate your taking the time to answer these 20 questions (answers may be typed or hand-written).
Please mail your responses to: Citizens’ Campaign for Commercial-Free Schools, 3724 Burke Ave. N. Seattle WA 98103, postmarked no later than:
FRIDAY AUGUST 17, 2001.
An electronic version of this questionnaire is available at www.scn.org/cccs. You may send email answers to firstname.lastname@example.org. Email responses must be received by Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2001.
SCHOOL BOARD POSITION # ________
RATED BY: DATE:
Recommendation to CCCS Board of Directors (Please circle one):
2 Confused, unaware
1 Pro-commercialism in schools
Do not write in this box
Key to Ratings:
5 Activist: Has taken a leadership role in actively opposing commercialism in Seattle schools—research, education, lobbying, and/or direct action.
4 Ally: Has participated in events and activities in the campaign for commercial-free schools, but not in leadership positions.
3 Sympathetic: Has endorsed and/or given financial support to the Citizens’ Campaign for Commercial-Free Schools; has expressed anti-commercialism views; shows understanding of issues.
2 Confused/Unaware: Unclear or uninformed about important issues relating to commercialism in schools; simplistic, shallow, or contradictory responses; cannot discuss issues in depth.
1 Pro-Commercialism: Has clearly demonstrated a pro-commercial position through actions or words.
*CCCS Coalition Partners
The following is a list of some of the local organizations that oppose commercialism in schools. The CCCS School Board ratings will be sent to these organizations and our individual endorsers before the Primary.
Green Party of Seattle
King County Labor Council
Ravenna-Bryant Community Association
Seattle Community College Federation of Teachers
Seattle Council of PTSAs
Seattle Education Association
Citizens’ Campaign for Commercial-Free Schools
3724 Burke Ave. N. Seattle WA 98103
206.523.4922 email@example.com http://www.scn.org/cccs
PAID ADVERTISING—UNRESTRICTED CASH
1. In 1998, the Seattle School District signed a five-year exclusive rights contract with the Coca-Cola Corporation. This contract calls for promotion and sales of Coke products throughout the 100 schools in the district, while prohibiting the sale or ‘pouring’ of competitors’ beverages (except for milk distributed through the school lunch program at noon), in return for cash and commissions. Please explain whether you would vote to renew the Coke contract.
2. In 2000, the district quietly passed a policy permitting the naming of district facilities. Previously, school facilities were named for prominent individuals (James Garfield High School; the Quincy Jones Auditorium). The new policy expands giving naming rights to corporate sponsors (cf. Safeco Field, etc.). Do you approve of selling naming rights to District-owned buildings and facilities? Why or why not?
3. In Seattle, many PTSA’s (Parent-Teacher-Student Associations) participate in the General Mills "Boxtops for Education’ program, whereby students and families are asked to purchase GM products and donate the proof-of-purchase to their school PTA. GM logos and ads are displayed prominently in the schools and sent home with all students in the weekly PTA newsletters. Last year, the Bryant Elementary PTA generated several hundred dollars this way. As a School Board member, what is your position on commercial activities conducted by organizations such as the PTA, when these involve Seattle School facilities, employees, or students?
4. In 1996, the Seattle School Board adopted a policy of seeking funds by selling wall/floor space to commercial advertisers. This short-lived policy was rescinded 6 months later after public uproar. As a School Board member, would you support a policy of selling wall-space? Please explain.
RESTRICTED CASH/CORPORATE ‘SPONSORSHIPS’
5. The Seattle Sonics ‘Read to Succeed’ program requires thousands of primary-grade students to read or be read to for 20 minutes a day for 20 days each month. Each session, family members of participating students must sign a card featuring Sonics logos and ads. Selected students participate in Sonics promotional events and may get a chance to meet one or more players. Do you think such a corporate sponsorship is justified? If not, can you suggest non-commercial alternatives for motivating Seattle families to read together regularly?
6. There may be various reasons for local Seattle businesses or global corporations wanting to ‘partner’ with Seattle Schools. Do you support any restrictions on the recognition of corporate sponsors? What is the relationship of corporate recognition to ‘branding’, when children are involved?
7. Do you believe that business logos are a form of advertising? Why or why not?
TRADING ACCESS TO CHILDREN FOR GOODS AND SERVICES
8. Channel One is a daily commercial MTV-like ‘news’ program for teens which many schools in Seattle require all students to view. In return, the school gets the loan of TV equipment (which in a few schools is also used to show student- or staff-made announcements and programs through a closed-circuit television system). Compulsory watching of Channel One adds up to one hour a week for thousands of Seattle middle and high school students , or one full week of school per year. Do you think this is a good use of taxpayer-funded school-time and facilities? Do you believe Channel One should remain in Seattle Schools? Why or why not?
9. Last year the Seattle School District decided to pay for Internet filtering services by placing banner ads on every web-page seen by students at school. The N2H2 filtering service simultaneously collected demographic data on Seattle children at school and allowed its advertising partners to do the same. N2H2 recently abandoned this business practice due to public protest. What is your position regarding such partnerships?
10. Seattle teachers need and want to upgrade their skills and knowledge throughout their career, and often attend classes, workshops, and conferences to do so. Recently, corporations such as Microsoft have been sponsoring teacher-training institutes complete with sample curriculums. These institutes are free or very low cost to teachers. Do you support corporate-sponsored teacher training? Why or why not?
UNPAID ADVERTISING IN SCHOOLS
11. Staff at Seattle elementary and secondary schools frequently distribute or post promotional materials throughout the school. Students are encouraged to use these 14" x 22" full-color ads featuring items such as deodorant and candy as book-covers. Other posters featuring Dole pineapple or Nantucket Nectar drinks are displayed in the lunchrooms. What restrictions, if any, would you place on the type of commercial materials employees may distribute to children or post at school?
12. Children in elementary schools in Seattle are occasionally asked to attend all-school assemblies which are presentations by marketers, such as the Sally Foster Gift wrap assembly, in which students are taught how to sell Sally Foster products to raise funds for their school. Do you believe it is appropriate to remove Seattle children from class for commercial presentations and promotional activities? Why or why not?
13. For decades, Washington Mutual Bank has conducted a ‘banking’ program in many Seattle elementary schools. Students are encouraged to save and deposit money in Washington Mutual bank accounts at their school regularly. There is no mention of credit unions or competitor banks. Do you consider the Washington Mutual program to be a commercial activity? Why or why not?
14. Seattle school staff--including counselors, teachers, computer lab managers, and coaches--often distribute free promotional merchandise to students at school, such as mouse pads, beauty products, bookmarks, water bottles, and t-shirts. Do you believe that the distribution of these materials is intended to build brand loyalty among school children? Why or why not?
15. Currently, the Seattle District has no system of reviewing or restricting unsolicited pre-packaged corporate ‘educational’ materials, such as the Hershey’s chocolate curriculum, Clearasil ‘Self-Esteem’ video, or the Godfather’s Pizza math lessons. Do you favor developing a review process or criteria for using corporate materials in Seattle schools? Why or why not?
16. Describe a healthy school-business partnership. Please include an example.
17. The State of Washington is mandated to fund basic education for all children. Currently, that definition effectively excludes many traditional learning activities such as music programs, art education, student newspapers, or intramural sports. Do you support increased funding for Washington schools? If so, where should that funding come from?
18.In the past decade, individual taxpayers’ contribution to state taxes has increased, while the corporate share has decreased. Pepsi-Cola, for example, pays no federal taxes even though such taxes help pay for federally-funded programs such as Head Start. Do you believe corporations should pay a higher proportion of the taxes used to educate children in Seattle? Why or why not?
19. Children and youth constitute a highly desirable market because they have their own money to spend, they influence family spending, and if branded at a young age, they will remain loyal customers for life. What role, if any, should Seattle educators play in protecting children and youth from commercial exploitation?
20. School Board members need to inform themselves on many issues coming before the board. As a School Board member, how will you balance information gleaned from individuals, grassroots organizations, school staff, district administrators, etc.?
Thank you for your thoughts on school commercialism—a critical issue that affects 47,000 Seattle schoolchildren every day.