California Schools Sell Out (Because They Have To)

School ad space, naming rights up for grab

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    Everybody's got a price. Turns out, so do school systems.

    School systems across California have a message for the rest of the world: "Your ad here."

    Thanks to massive budget cuts, cash-strapped schools are reaching out to anyone or any business with a checkbook.

    In Chino Valley Unified School District, corporate sponsorships are available for school assemblies, said interim Supt. Wayne Joseph.

    "I don't think we have much of a choice," Joseph told the Los Angeles Times. "There are probably more dark days ahead. We're going to have to look at other streams of revenue."

    The selling-out doesn't stop in Chino. The elusive search for revenue is statewide, the Times reported:

    Los Angeles Unified School District officials are courting the city's professional sports teams to blunt cuts to athletics programs. Beverly Hills trustees are considering logo T-shirts, hats and other apparel, counting on teenagers to snap up the merchandise because of the city's celebrity and the popularity of television's "Beverly Hills, 90210." San Diego County educators are selling the naming rights to two sixth-grade science camps. South Pasadena officials are wooing Hollywood producers to film TV shows at district headquarters.

    "I am enormously sympathetic to the plight of schools today," director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood in Boston, Susan Linn, told the Times.

    But -- and there's always a but -- "when schools become businesses, the well-being and education of children is no longer the focus."

    Be that as it may, that's a risk some cash-strapped schools are willing to take. When the two choices are -- 1) selling out, or 2) shutting down -- which is worse for the kids?

    "School districts are desperate, and school districts are trying to keep the lights on," state Supt. of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell told the Times.