CCCS Frequently Asked Questions
- How would you define commercialism?
In a sense, any exchange of money or goods could be called 'commerce'; our group is focused on the commercial interests of for-profit corporations bringing branded products into public schools.
- Why do you believe schools should be free of commercialism?
What private schools do is entirely up to them. We believe that publicly-funded schools belong to the public and that it is a misuse of public funds to permit selected corporations to use them as a vehicle to increase their own profits.
- What effects does commercialism have on children in schools?
Commercial messages are the antithesis of education, because they present only one side of the picture and do not encourage critical thinking. Furthermore, commercialism teaches the meta-message that the solution to life's challenges lies in consumption of products. In other words, commercialism teaches materialism in general, aside from all the dubious things which particular messages teach about particular products and companies.
- Why do schools allow commercialism to be in them (i.e. exclusive agreements)?
School Boards, Superintendents and Principals often feel strapped for cash and are sorely tempted to sign exclusive contracts with soft drink companies. In exchange for access to the kids, the companies pay a hefty 'signing fee' (a.k.a. bribe) and then a commission on each can or bottle sold. The money of course does not come from the company at all, but ultimately from the students themselves.
- On average, how much how much money a year do schools make from commercialism?
Seattle has an exclusive pouring rights contract with the Coca-Cola Corporation. Last year it brought in a total of $19 per high school student and $11 per middle school student, for the entire year. This money can only be used for student activities, not for instruction.
- How would schools make up for the money they could lose by getting rid of advertising, exclusive contracts, etc.?
We estimate that 80-90% of all advertising in public schools brings in not one dollar. The main exception is the soda contracts. We have a list of 101 noncommercial fundraisers which could be used instead. The soda revenues, of course, could be replaced by a student activity fee (with a scholarship structure built in for those who cannot afford the fee).
- What has led to the increase in commercialism over the past decade?
Marketers are salivating at the thought of all those children sitting captively in public schools, which by law they are required to attend. The kids represent 3 simultaneous markets: their own purchases, influence on family purchases, and their future as lifelong loyal purchasers of certain brands. The third is the main reason that marketers try to get school-age kids hooked.
- What is your organization doing about the problem? What have they already done?
We worked for 5 years and succeeded in getting a policy passed in the Seattle public schools prohibiting most kinds of commercial activities, including Channel One, wall ads, ads on vending machines, etc. We're now working in 12 other communities in our state to develop similar policies. At the same time, we are developing statewide legislation that would ban junkfood marketing and sales in schools.
- What has caused commercialism in schools?
The avarice of multi-national corporations, the shortsightedness and desperation of educational administrators, and the naivite of parents and students.
- What are reasons that people argue FOR commercialism in schools?
You'd have to ask them.
- What solution do you propose for this problem?
Make all public schools commercial-free zones. In Seattle, we have a precedent for that, because our schools are already weapons-free zones, drug-free zones, and hate-free zones.
- 101 (noncommercial) Ways to Raise Funds
Compiled from PTA members