Tuesday, May 15, 2001

Schools deal with
campus commercial

The ed board debates the
growing presence of
outside groups

By Crystal Kua

Students pitching products in public schools will probably be a no-no, but corporate sponsorship logos adorning signs, soda machines and other items will likely still be seen on campus.

Those are some of the issues the Board of Education is grappling with as it considers a policy that weighs the pros and cons of commercialization in the public schools.

"We wanted to establish that business-education partnerships are important ... to support the schools in bringing extra revenues and instructional materials and everything that business-education partnerships provide," said Matthew McLane, chairman of the board's Student Services Committee and the student member on the board.

"But at the same time, we need to protect students, and we need to maintain a school environment."

But the committee held off voting on the new policy until its next meeting in June so that Deborah Oyama, assistant superintendent of public affairs, who helped draft the policy but who was out sick yesterday, can attend along with a representative from the state Parent Teacher Student Association, which has voiced concerns about commercialization. Several members also suggested making some changes to language in the policy.

The policy calls for ethical corporate involvement in the school system and says that having such a business education partnership can be positive and a welcome contribution to public education.

But the welfare of students and the integrity of the learning environment needs to be protected, the policy says.

Yesterday's discussion ran the gamut on topics including vending machines, advertising on scoreboards, corporate logos on signs and students advocating buying one product over another.

One of the more controversial sections of the policy said sponsor recognition and corporate logos shall be for identification rather than commercial purposes.

But board member Sherwood Hara said it would be difficult to tell when one starts and the other ends when you have a Pepsi or Coke soda machine on campus.

"I'm not sure one can separate the two concepts of identification and commer- cialization," board member Sherwood Hara said.

Board members also said that accepting donated items from corporations should also be scrutinized within the same educational standards as other instructional materials.

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