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How Marketing in School Threatens Children's Well-Being and Undermines their Education

Alex Molnar and Faith Boninger

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If you strip away the rosy language of “school-business partnership,” “win-win situation,” “giving back to the community,” and the like, what you see when you look at corporate marketing activities in the schools is example after example of the exploitation of children for financial gain.
Over the long run the financial benefit marketing in schools delivers to corporations rests on the ability of advertising to “brand” students and thereby help insure that they will be customers for life. This process of “branding” involves inculcating the value of consumption as the primary mechanism for achieving happiness, demonstrating success, and finding fulfillment. Along the way, “branding” children – just like branding cattle – inflicts pain.
Yet school districts, desperate for funding sources, often eagerly welcome marketers and seem not to recognize the threats that marketing brings to children’s well-being and to the integrity of the education they receive.
Given that all ads in school pose some threat to children, it is past time for considering whether marketing activities belong in school. Schools should be ad-free zones.
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Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Pages: 294Size: 6 3/8 x 9 1/4
978-1-4758-1360-9 • Hardback • August 2015 • $60.00 • (£39.95)
978-1-4758-1361-6 • Paperback • August 2015 • $30.00 • (£19.95)
978-1-4758-1362-3 • eBook • August 2015 • $28.00 • (£18.95)
Alex Molnar is a Research Professor at the University of Colorado Boulder, where he serves as Publications Director of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) and Director of the Commercialism in Education Research Unit (CERU). His work has examined curriculum and instruction topics, market-based education reforms, and policy formation. In addition to numerous articles, his earlier books on commercialism in schools are Giving Kids the Business: The Commercialization of America’s Schools (2001) and Commercialism in education: From democratic ideal to market commodity (2005).

Faith Boninger is a Research Associate at the University of Colorado Boulder, in the university’s National Education Policy Center (NEPC) and Commercialism in Education Research Unit (CERU). Her work focuses on commercialism in schools, to which she brings a background in social psychology (Ph.D., Ohio State University), particularly an interest in persuasion and communication processes.
Acknowledgments
Chapter 1 - The Problem of Schoolhouse Commercialism
Chapter 2 - Schoolhouse Commercializing Trends, 1990-2006
Chapter 3 - Threats to Children’s Psychological Well-Being
Chapter 4 - Threats to Children’s Physical Well-Being
Chapter 5 - Threats to the Integrity of Children’s Education
Chapter 6 - Assessing the Intensity of the Threats Commercialism Poses to Children’s Well-Being
Chapter 7 - Threats to Children’s Privacy and Digital Marketing
Chapter 8 – Closing Thoughts
Appendices
Appendix A: Gubbins’ Matrix of Thinking Skills
Appendix B: State Laws and Regulations as of May 2004
Appendix C: State Bills Addressing School Commercialism Signed into Law, 2011-2014
Appendix D: Websites Associated with Relevant Topics
Appendix E: State Laws Addressing Student Data Privacy: Synopses of Their Major Provisions With Their Significant Gaps in Protection, Exclusions and Omissions Noted (2011-2014)
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