Wednesday, January 5, 2011

HB 199, School Bus Advertisements -- Justifiable Desperate Measures

Jim Bird is running HB 199, a bill that would allow school districts to sell advertisements on the side of school buses. There has been some relatively calm worry about inappropriate advertising by the Eagle Forum, some hyperbole (whore out our children??) along with the good point that this is nothing more than a very, very small band-aid for our painful education budgets, and some rational discussion without taking a very strong stance.

I can see the concerns, but to me, the positive impact, especially on transportation budgets (here are two of the weirder stories among many resulting from bus routes being cut), outweighs the vague worries of negative influences. Our school runs Channel 1 News every day with commercials included. I strangely find myself agreeing with the take of a Daily Herald editorial about the many commercial influences already in schools, not even mentioning the silly companies we associate ourselves with for fundraising sales -- chocolates, gift wrap, magazines, and a plethora of discount cards. That is until the last sentence of the editorial containing yet another swipe at public schools which equates school bus advertising with "innovation in school funding."

I am OK with this bill because over 13,000 new students got sent to school this year without being funded. Governor Herbert "hopes" to fund the over 32,000 additional students projected over the next two years while the legislature is rumbling about funding only a portion of those incoming students ("Not funding incoming students" is a politically smoother way to phrase things than saying "We plan to cut the public education budget"). Various schools are in danger of losing their accredited status because too many teachers have student loads of more than 180 students while I am teaching classes of 36 to 38 students without enough room for that many desks and a total load of over 250 students. I would venture to say that excluding special education teachers, every full-time teacher in an Alpine District high school or junior high is teaching more than 180 students. It's just not every school's year to be accredited so we haven't been caught yet.

It is acceptable to me to sell the space on the side of buses because we are desperate, not because cutting education funding and then allowing districts to beg for scraps is "innovative."



JBT said...

I am diametrically opposed to this measure. First because it would raise only a paltry sum to begin with and second because it would give the misguided miscreants in the legislature who voted for it the false impression they are actually "going the extra mile" to fund education in this state.

UtahTeacher said...

You know, you may be right. If this were somehow used as an excuse by state legislators to not cover the basic needs of education, the negative would far outweigh the positive.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, UtahTeacher. I loved your comments and insight.