2016-06-10 / Letters

Expert: Don’t advertise

To the editor:

The Sentry reported (June 3) that the South Portland Board of Education has approved a plan to permit advertising in schools as a means of raising revenue. I work at the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, a national nonprofit organization headquartered in Boston, which advocates for policies to protect children from harmful marketing and promotes commercial free time and space for kids. We were glad to read that members of the board, the city council and community voiced opposition to the proposal to allow advertising on school property, but sorry to hear that the measure passed, pending a June 14 budget referendum.

We believe marketing which targets children is especially inappropriate in the school environment, which should be about learning, not consumerism. Schoolchildren present a captive audience, which cannot change the channel. Ads at school appear to carry the endorsement of the school or faculty, and children are especially vulnerable to persuasive advertising while they are still learning how to think critically. Plus, experience shows that ads in schools usually don’t generate as much money as was promised by those advocating to allow them.

In these tough financial times, many schools throughout the country have wrestled with the idea of advertising as a means of closing budget gaps. Thankfully, many have decided against it. We agree with those in the community who oppose allowing advertising in South Portland schools.

David Monahan Massachusetts

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