Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Literally selling out

So far we've managed to fend these sorts of ideas off locally, but it looks like some in other parts of the country haven't managed that: they're literally selling out education:

On Battlefield High School's Web site, students can find homework assignments, check sports schedules and even track their finances via a link on the home page -- if they have an account with BB&T. The bank's click-through logo is part of an Internet advertising deal, considered a first for Washington area public schools, that is helping Prince William County educators find private sources of revenue when public money is tight.

There's a conversation going on over at Mother Talkers about the propriety of this, and it's raised what I think is the real issue here: going beyond the impropriety of using your captive audience of students as a marketing group, this is about public education and public values.

Public education is in the best interest of us all, as it is in all of our best interest to have a thoughtful, reading, well-educated citizenry. A republic demands that. If we want that, then we have to pay for it. If we don't do it, and resort to raffles, bake sales, and ad revenues, then we've also lost public investment. Public investment goes beyond dollars. Is public education valued? Is it invested in? Does everyone care about it? Any time someone says, "Well, I don't have kids in school," we've had a breakdown in the process.

You can't auction off the social contract.

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