The Solution to Funding Education: School Bus Ads

Utah is last in the nation in per pupil spending and at the top of the list in class sizes.  Yet legislators in Utah continually find ways to under fund and cut spending for the education of our state’s children.

Rep. Jim Bird, R-West Jordan, will be introducing a bill (again) to allow advertising on school buses.  His rationale:

….there’s little difference between placing an ad on the side of a school bus and the plethora of ads students already see at school.

“You go to a football game at any high school along the Wasatch Front and you see banners all along the football field,” Bird said in an interview. “This isn’t any different than that.”
(Bloomberg, December 29, 2011

Bird also hopes that school districts would use the money from the ad revenues for their transportation budgets so that “school buses wouldn’t have to be cut”.

Opponents of the bill realize this is not the way to fund education, for a variety of reasons.

Children are already deluged with ads on television, the Internet and even the clothing they wear. They are encouraged to buy products or persuade their parents to buy products nearly everywhere they go. Schools already sell advertising space on playing field scoreboards, on vending machines and sometimes on televised educational programs.

Enough is enough.

While we support more funding for schools, those funds should be collected in the usual ways. There are untapped revenue sources the Legislature should consider before succumbing to the easy-money lure of selling our kids’ attention to commercial interests.

(Salt Lake Tribune Editorial, January 6, 2011)

The idea of paying more taxes is always controversial, but for essential services, that include education, it’s a no-brainer. 

Rep. Bird’s bill would prohibit advertising like this on school buses.

We couldn’t possibly raise the tax on people with 15 children in the system while I continue to (happily I might add) pay my fair share despite my current lack of children. We couldn’t increase funds on extracting resources from our lands or divert funds away from paying off contractors…nope we have to whore out our children. Perhaps we should also require school uniforms and make sure that each school has a sponsor.

Hell, why not have individual classes sponsored as well? Math brought to you by Texas Instruments, Biology sponsored by Pfizer, Gym by McDonalds!

(Curtis Haring, Blue in Red Zion)

Legislators need to get real.  Teachers work very hard in this state to educate our children despite the lack of resources.  If you haven’t visited your child’s, or your neighbor’s children’s classrooms, do.  When you see the lights on in your neighborhood school after hours, you can bet that the cleaning people are not the only people working there.  Teachers spend the time needed – in and outside of school hours – to be sure their classrooms and curriculum are set up for your child to learn.

It’s time to stop skirting around the issue of under funding education and piecemealing funding ideas.   The Governor has put forth a recommendation in his budget to generating more money for schools.  Rational discussion and exploration is in order with sensible solutions put on the table.  The bill for ads on school buses is not rational or sensible. 

(Cross-posted to Utah Legislature Watch)

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