Advertising could soon be boarding school buses in New Jersey

By David Kiefaber on Wed Sep 22 2010

School-bus

Perpetually broke school districts in New Jersey may soon be able to pay some bills by advertising on the sides of school buses, thanks to a bill approved by the state's Assembly Education Committee. Like every other instance of advertising to captive audiences of children, this measure is controversial—but desperate times apparently require desperate measures. Political ads and anything promoting alcohol or cigarettes is verboten, of course, but everything else is probably fair game, which worries both parents and critics of the bill. Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood's Josh Golin calls it "exploitation" and reminds us all that "kids have to ride the school bus. … For parents who are increasingly concerned about the commercial messages kids are exposed to, there's no opting out of the bus." That's a valid concern, and it would have been nice if more attention had been paid to limiting what gets advertised on the buses. It wouldn't be a terrible compromise if, say, only products or services with educational merit were eligible. In fact, it could allow said products or services a niche where they wouldn't have to compete with by recreational competitors. But of course, that didn't happen. In fact, the most telling quote from this whole story comes from one assistant superintendent who said his district is "looking to generate revenue ... because no one else is out there supporting us." That's heavy.


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