Maybe they could do a little factory work too...
June 23, 2003 8:08 AM   Subscribe

Dressed as pieces of bologna, ham and cheese, Maryland 3rd graders sing corporate jingle and dance in Oscar Meyer contest...for school equipment money - $10,000 corporate checks for scarce school equipment, Dunkin' Doughnuts free doughnut coupons for students in exchange for homework...."Oakdale Principal Judy Sherman sees no problem with the Oscar Mayer and Dunkin' Donuts contests. No parents complained.... "It's great for the school as well as for kids who have to use their creative-writing and performing-arts skills, not to mention all those good social skills," Sherman said."

Oh my.
posted by troutfishing (87 comments total)
i quote Ralph Wiggum: "When I grow up, I'm going to Bovine University!" :P
posted by serafinapekkala at 8:14 AM on June 23, 2003

Yes, it's normal to prostitute our children to large corporations in order to get the money for basic services that should have been funded anyway, trharlan.
posted by Cerebus at 8:27 AM on June 23, 2003

This is the result of tax service cuts: Fed funding replaced by bovine funding. Some say it's the way of the future.
posted by magullo at 8:32 AM on June 23, 2003

To quote a 60's underground icon, "Uncle Meat says, 'Make a mess!'"
posted by Pressed Rat at 8:32 AM on June 23, 2003

I thought my school sucked because they rejected the Pizza Hut reading for pizza offer that was so common in the 80's (wasn't it even on one of them old sitcoms, like Small Wonder I believe). Now I'm glad I had teachers with principles.
posted by Space Coyote at 8:34 AM on June 23, 2003

trharlan - Why no problem at all, in this best of all possible worlds.

I was just struck speechless by the possibilities, while imagining the didactic value and the sheer beauty of the Oscar Meyer "Lunchables Pageant", and by the crisp efficiency of rewarding children with tasty and delicious confections for their dedication to homework.

And I felt sad at the terrible poverty of the average American classroom, that every lesson every day could not be a paean, a tribute, and a celebration of the bounty of our industrial system which might, at the same time, ensure that American classrooms were as well equipped as their counterparts in Sweden, Japan, Germany, France, Italy, or Korea.

And to think, through the brilliance of bringing advertising into the American classroom, we could do this all without risking the danger of a slide into socialist hell!
posted by troutfishing at 8:34 AM on June 23, 2003

Truly fucked up. Echo Cerebus and magullo.
posted by squirrel at 8:35 AM on June 23, 2003

If they're gonna do corporate-sponsorship days like this, I hope they've spelled out the dress code thoroughly beforehand.
posted by soyjoy at 8:36 AM on June 23, 2003

"On Monday night the EVSC school board looked at a proposal from Coca-Cola to help pay for extracurricular activities. It's a five-year deal worth about $2.5 million. During the first year $700,000 would be paid." but hey, at least they would be a non-carbonated alternative for every carbonated drink offered. (found via adland - full disc; my site but not my post.)

Dancing dressed as Baloney is far worse, imho.
posted by dabitch at 8:36 AM on June 23, 2003

Which has, of course, utterly consumed and destroyed the economies of those once great and proud nations - Sweden, Japan, Germany, France, Italy, and Korea, and so on. - who have succumbed to the insidious temptations of wealth redistribution for the laughable goal of the public good.

Now, they know better in those sorry countries. They might even be resorting there to cannibalism, for all I know.
posted by troutfishing at 8:42 AM on June 23, 2003

More than anything else, it sounds like a good time to go over an itemized budget for that states public education system.
When a state apportions thousands of dollars per student each year, and yet students are caught up in utter crap like this, it is time to start slashing the fatty cholesterol buildup. Perhaps starting with the administrators who approved this display.
BTW, is anyone here able to cite *any* itemized state budget for education? Now, I wonder why they are so adamant in *not* publishing those?
posted by kablam at 8:45 AM on June 23, 2003

kids dancing as bologna. god has truely forsaken us.
posted by destro at 8:46 AM on June 23, 2003

Kablam, that may be one solution, or it might be a good time for raising taxes.
posted by biffa at 8:49 AM on June 23, 2003

I don't understand why all budgets that are funded by public tax dollars aren't totally transparent in itemized form. Published on the web, as a matter of fact.
posted by squirrel at 8:58 AM on June 23, 2003

Hats of Meat!
posted by insomnyuk at 9:02 AM on June 23, 2003

When I was a kid we collected Campbell's soup can labels for playground equipment. We also had a "field day" at the end of the year, with local sponsors donating food and prizes. I can't exactly justify why I think this is worse, but dammit, it is.
posted by JoanArkham at 9:10 AM on June 23, 2003

What's the problem?!
The problem is that there are people who don't think this is a problem. It's wrong on so many levels. Such a sickening, sad, goofy-ass invasion of the private into the public.
But corporations are evil. I forgot.
Yeah, that's why this is so alarming...just another misinformed, anti-corporate position for us to take.
Care to defend these practices?
posted by ghastlyfop at 9:11 AM on June 23, 2003

Sarcasm is the voice of the weak, trharlan. If you have a point, make it like an adult.
posted by squirrel at 9:11 AM on June 23, 2003

I don't give a rat's ass what Sweden, Japan, Germany, France, Italy, or Korea spend per capita. I really don't.

I do care if schools in my own country are pimping the kids out in order to make up for funds that haven't been forthcoming from the state or the Fed.

No, trharlan, you can't change the question. I won't let you.
posted by Cerebus at 9:15 AM on June 23, 2003

Or you can be like me and fight sarcasm with more sarcasm!
posted by ghastlyfop at 9:15 AM on June 23, 2003

interesting link trharlan, since I've been to both US and Swedish schools, (many years ago). The US ones had vending machines and corporate sponsors already back then. The Swedish schools didn't, even though they apparantly spend less. I guess they save on the cantina food (which is horrid, but everyrone still gets as much Milk as they want, and there's always crispbread to save the day).
posted by dabitch at 9:15 AM on June 23, 2003

Care to defend these practices?

considering this has been going on for nearly 30 years, all of this surprise and outrage is kinda amusing ...
posted by probablysteve at 9:18 AM on June 23, 2003

You're right, but it has gotten steadily and measurably worse, probablysteve. This is just a balls-out, slap-in-the-face extreme, don't you think?
posted by ghastlyfop at 9:20 AM on June 23, 2003

I hate join the piling-on, but the numbers you cite, tharlan, do not tell the whole story. A big problem with public education in this country is not the average amount spent overall, but the fact that rich, suburban schools may spend twice the average while urban and rural schools may get half of that due to their smaller tax base.

Also, for those who can't explain why this is wrong, here is my stab: school children are a captive audience who can't simply tune out the commercial messages or go to a different school with better sponsors. Also, younger children in particular may have a hard time differentiating between commercials and education, especially when they are as integrated as they are in some corporate-sponsored lessons. There is no shortage of advertising outlets in this country. Public schools should not be one of them.
posted by TedW at 9:21 AM on June 23, 2003

What's next, Joe Camel in a Zoology class? Oh, wait a minute.
posted by cip at 9:23 AM on June 23, 2003

considering this has been going on for nearly 30 years, all of this surprise and outrage is kinda amusing

Thirty years ago I was in 4th grade; I have steadily become more outraged over a number of things ever since.

I am not, however, surprised.
posted by TedW at 9:26 AM on June 23, 2003

"considering this has been going on for nearly 30 years,"
What, prostitution? Oh, it's been going on a lot longer than that.

No but really, what do you mean by "this."
posted by Outlawyr at 9:30 AM on June 23, 2003

cip, I don't think Orwell or Salinger should be "airbrushed", thank you very much for the suggestion.
posted by magullo at 9:35 AM on June 23, 2003

By the way, TedW, beautifully articulated, and so very correct.
posted by ghastlyfop at 9:41 AM on June 23, 2003

Although it's a bit old (1997), the Stay Free! Magazine article about marketing to kids in public schools has a lot of interesting things to say on this topic, for those who are inclined.
posted by beth at 9:43 AM on June 23, 2003

Why do you care? Are other people's children your property?

Why doesn't it surprise me that this was the only reason you could articulate for caring about other people's children?
posted by Armitage Shanks at 9:49 AM on June 23, 2003

"The corporation actually gets something out of the money it gives to schools. Unlike the taxpayer."

If society gains nothing from paying for public schools, we should stop funding it at once. Then we will all gain from the lack of education. It will be easier to enslave the masses and turn them into soylent green at the Oscar Meyer plant.

Are you a complete moron or just trolling?
posted by Outlawyr at 9:57 AM on June 23, 2003

TedW said it best school children are a captive audience - the thing is, They are supposed to be a captive audience and pay attention. Don't throw that attention away from curriculum and onto brand names.

on preview, I vote for s/he's trolling.
posted by dabitch at 9:58 AM on June 23, 2003

What's next, Joe Camel in a Zoology class? Oh, wait a minute.

How dare these classic novels portray realistic people, vices and all, instead of virtuous sin-free cardboard cut-outs.

Reading that link made me want to smoke two cigarettes at once, and then write a book about it.
posted by SweetJesus at 10:03 AM on June 23, 2003

JoanArkham: I think having kids dress up as bologna and "dancing for their supper" as it were is far worse than collecting Campbell's soup labels and sending them in for free computers because the difference in that case is where the control lies -- with the Campbell's thing, you have kids' *parents* in control of the situation, as they are the ones who go to the supermarket and buy the chicken noodle soup. The companies are trying to get kids' parents to buy more soup. In this case, I dunno; I wonder if parents were sent a permission slip to allow their kids to be used as corporate shills... I seriously doubt it. I suppose the argument here (as it is with 99% of all other arguments) is 'where do you draw the line?' Dressing up kids like bologna crosses that line.
posted by lazywhinerkid at 10:08 AM on June 23, 2003

I went to school in a very small town. The grade school there gets to use a bus belonging to the local sawmill a few times a year for field trips and to take the kids into the nearest city for swimming lessons. In exchange, the sawmill, which employs somewhere near 50% of the parents anyway, gets a little corporate goodwill (and, I'd imagine, some kind of tax write off). For different school events the local gas station/convenience store would donate prizes. The companies involved got a little free advertising, but it wasn't worth much, since the locals had no choice but shop at the store, and couldn't buy what the sawmill was selling directly. These were, I think, acceptable things.

On the other end of the spectrum, we have this story. Somewhere in between is a dividing line but it's hard to see where it is, exactly. Did we cross the line when coke and pepsi started signing exclusive marketing deals with schools? Or when the schools let any vending machines on their property in the first place.

Generally, I'd draw my line in the sand somewhere pretty far along the spectrum - because, frankly, I don't think kids are nearly as susceptible to advertising as adults imagine they are - but this clearly crosses it. Why? I think because in this case it's so active. The students are actively creating advertising, instead of passively viewing it. Huge difference. There may be a place for doing science projects involving coke in the curriculum, but not with coke as a sponsor. There may be a place for coke sponsorship, but not that involves integrating coke into the students' activities.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:40 AM on June 23, 2003

Why do you care? Are other people's children your property?

As we pay for their education, yes, we certainly have an interest in it. This is not a private transaction, but a public one, and we aren't intruding beyond our rights by calling for the policy to be changed.
posted by Epenthesis at 10:45 AM on June 23, 2003

I wonder how differently this would play if the offending marketers weren't Coke and Oscar Meyer, but were instead, say, the broccoli growers of america. I think that at least part of my outrage is that these products actively destroy the health of our kids. If the students were shilling for broccoli, the advertising prostitution angle would remain offensive, but the end result wouldn't be as bad. Thus, this issue might be seen as two different issues... with this instance being the worse of both.
posted by squirrel at 11:18 AM on June 23, 2003

trharlan - Great use of stats. So, how do I respond? - Well, I'd counter that the comparison is very unfair due to the fact that the social fabrics in the countries I cited (for varying reasons) are generally in far better shape than that of the US (rather tattered). So US schools in urban areas have to contend with problems on a scale unimagineable in most wealthy industrialized nations - like a murder rate far higher than our nearest competitors, kids with guns, broken families, drug abusing parents....on and on.

U.S. schools are somehow expected - quite unfairly, in my opinion - to make sense of this mess and fix all the larger societal problems which their students bring with them to class in the form of acting-out behaviors, as violence, as depression or drug abuse, or as an inability to concentrate.

And, as TedW noted, educational money is not at all evenly distributed. Wealthier schools districts, which also would tend to have kids growing up in less bleak environments (actually, mostly good ones even) spend more money per student. So the urban school kids get it at both ends: less money spent on their educations, AND severely dyfunctional families and damaging overall environments.

jacquilynne - If the kids are not susceptible to advertising, why does Dunkin' Donuts and Oscar Meyers bother? I'd assume that they don't spend their advertising dollars pointlessly. They've both been in business a long time, and presumeably rely on good marketing research.

Maybe the effort is merely to promote their reputations as good corporate citizens? Perhaps. But then why encouraeg the kids to do the bologna song and dance? Why incentivize them with coupons for free donuts?

Donuts, of all things (see below).

squirrel - I wondered this myself - how much of my outrage was due to the fact that the advertised food was really unhealthy? - Obesity is on it's way to getting the official status as the #1 mortality risk factor. Meanwhile, the kids now in school are predicted to be the first generation in US history to have shorter lifespans than those of their parents. Donuts, indeed.

And then there's the Type 2 Diabetes epdemic.......donuts again.

OK *puts on trharlan hat* - how do we feel if the kids are dressing up as organic broccoli and carrots, loaves of organic seven grain bread and soy burgers, and dancing and singing jingles about those products?

The kids are celebrating healthier food, and at least they're moving around rather than just sitting.

What if their school systems have enough money but they just want some extra equipment not covered in the budget?

So.... Good, bad, or indiferent?

But trharlan, really now........."The corporation actually gets something out of the money it gives to schools. Unlike the taxpayer." So, on your reasoning, why not close down the schools ( and for that matter, also grind up the kids as Soylent Green product, as Outlayer spoofed ) if they are indeed so useless?

But I refute your reasoning easily enough: a cursory glance at the internicine wars in Africa - with their child soldiers who are in turn kidnapped, fed drugs, traumatized and then trained to chop off limbs and carry out mass killings - reveals what children are actually capble of, and that things could indeed be worse by whole orders of magnitudes.

So, given that this sort of thing isn't going on in the US, I imagine the US public schools are doing a little good.
posted by troutfishing at 12:12 PM on June 23, 2003

troutfishing and squirrel, I think a distinction needs to be made between broccoli, which is a good thing, and a certain brand's veggie burger, which may or may not be a good thing, is probably a better thing than bologna, but in other ways is virtually indistinguishable. What I'm saying is that getting kids to eat 'broccoli' is a positive step no matter which way you slice it. Getting them to eat a certain brand of burger, veggie or no, is at best a complicated achievement. And it's no accident that the foods that are the best for us tend to be those that don't come in prefab formats/boxes with memorable logos and associated jingles.
posted by soyjoy at 12:48 PM on June 23, 2003

Children in school, subjected to perform as corporate shills while the school gets money for equipment. Pardon me while I infer that the teachers and administration benefit from this as the pay check stays intact, possibly even increased. Allowing them to possibly attract more capable educators, and keep the good ones that they have. As long as the children's education isn't impacted, how different is dressing up like a hotdog to putting on a pizza delivery uniform? Both benefit the doer, more so in the case of education. I'm to be concerned that these children are going to be brainwashed in to buying nothing but processed deli meat and candy in to old age? Not likely. One would hope they would look back on it as something they did that was good for their education, and move on.
posted by mnology at 1:19 PM on June 23, 2003

Yes, trharlan, I should be a heartless, compassionless robot. That's what I aspire to be-- totally uncaring about my fellows.

No, trharlan-- what I care about is that they have to stoop to such measures in the first place. Which is the issue you keep sidestepping, I should point out. The local government, the state and the Fed are supposed to be funding the needs of these schools-- why aren't they?

That is the failure against which I wish to grind my axe. You can't change the subject, I won't let you.
posted by Cerebus at 1:31 PM on June 23, 2003

Fun Fact: In exchange for $25,000 worth of television and satellite equipment, US schools are forcing 8 million students to quietly watch Channel One news and commercials in homeroom every day for a minimum of three years (*).
posted by eddydamascene at 1:45 PM on June 23, 2003

Wow. I am a childfree by choice/zero population growth type person, and even I think I have a responsibility to pay for the education of "other people's children"'s called living in a society.

And anyone dressing up like lunchmeat for any reason just has to be wrong.
posted by JoanArkham at 1:46 PM on June 23, 2003

Which is all well and good trharlan, but a schools budget should not be dependent of the whims of commercial enterprises.
posted by cohappy at 1:58 PM on June 23, 2003

trharlan -Thanks. Well, I snarked too.

Now about the argument......."I don't measure compassion by one's willingness to spend someone else's money or one's willingness to tell others what to think." - ouch. OK, you're right about compassion per se - it's not a policy dictated to others but, rather, something which flows from the heart - for individuals, that is.

But is it meaningfull to talk about society as a whole? ( an artificial construct, that thing, "society", but it does still have meaning ). And so, can we talk about society as being more or less compassionate?

Let me make one thing clear though - I was actually somewhat ambivalent about the "dancing bologna" issue - due to the fact, as you mentioned, that nobody involved - neither parents, kids, teachers, or the principal of the school seemed to have a problem with the "corporate advertising for money for equipment" issue.

But let me ask you this - you said you opposed public education on 2 counts. On your second objection, against making one person pay for the education of another....

Well, you're making an argument against most of what we consider government - it's redistributive function. OK.

Now - imagine a country where a tiny elite of one percent owns over 90% of the arable land and most of the wealth, while 95% of the population is landless, illiterate, and usually somewhat close to starvation. This hypothetical country would resemble Guatemala in the 1980's. During this period, death squads (paid for by the wealthiest one or two percent) killed catholic priests, labour rights organizers, and about 50,000 others (in a country of only a couple million) in an attempt to prevent land redistribution and other policies which might mitigate the plight of the poor.

My question - Guatemala is an extreme case which I bring up to push my point: are there ever any cases in which you think the redistributive function of government is appropriate? Remember - the ruling oligarchic families of Guatemala are, more or less, descendants of the Spanish Conquistadores and so the situation, in some ways, resembles the historical evil, the disenfranchisement of slavery which held in the US prior to the US Civil War. The Spanish came to Guatemala in the 14th or 15th century, grabbed most of the land, and never left.

Is redistribution ever appropriate?
posted by troutfishing at 2:04 PM on June 23, 2003

On Monday night the EVSC school board looked at a proposal from Coca-Cola to help pay for extracurricular activities. ... found via adland

The EVSC is in Indiana, not Illinois (the location part of the byline on adland is incorrect).
In the same community the mayor recently killed a $25.5 million dollar stadium project -- which is a good, because 1) we already have stadium suitable for a minor-league team and 2) we have a budget crunch just like every other municipality in the nation. Still, the city is still left with over $1 million in bills and nothing to show for it. Meanwhile, the school corporation is reduced to seeking corporate sponsorship.

So we're talking baseball while the schools are
posted by moonbiter at 2:05 PM on June 23, 2003

trharlan, thanks for coming forward with your arguments. I acknowledge your anti-govt education position, but I wonder what would be better.

On the tyranny of taxation issue you raise, again, I wonder what system would be better than one where people pay into a collective pot which goes for common services. Even those without kids benefit from quality education--I hope that much is clear.

Finally, your "no one is hurting these kids" comment is a matter of perspective. You seem to be the only one in this thread who doesn't see harm. I see tremendous harm. I see an arm of the government forcing kids to participate in marketing... and marketing for poisonous products, to boot.
posted by squirrel at 2:47 PM on June 23, 2003

Oh geez...the Oscar Meyer wiener song and the Bologna song are almost as much a part of our American culture as God Bless America, White Christmas and Row Row Row Your Boat. It's harmless.
posted by Durwood at 3:11 PM on June 23, 2003

I know you're right about the ubiquity of those jingles, Durwood, but that doesn't make me feel any better about their (forced) influence on another generation of little consumers, er, I mean kids. And I think that's part of the point: we're taking this captive, impressionable audience and teaching them consumer roles. Schools should be doing the opposite of that--equipping them with critical thinking skills.(/won't somebody think of the children)
posted by squirrel at 4:25 PM on June 23, 2003

Someone care to enlighten me as to how any of this even gives the hint that this is hurting children's education? Just because the corporate bogeymen have touched something, doesn't mean it whithers and dies. [Corporate ventures in to 3rd world nations/environmental disasters duely noted.]
posted by mnology at 5:04 PM on June 23, 2003

serafinapekkala, no!!

Krabappel: Who can tell me the atomic weight of bolognium?
Martin: Ooh ... delicious?
Krabappel: Correct. I would also accept snacktacular.

Hmm. Or maybe the entire Funzo episode...

So anyway, creeping corporatism helps nudge our society closer to a Simpsons episode and I actually get to witness an in-thread Mefi version of "What use is a newborn baby?" I swear, if I hadn't already given up on humanity, you people would depress me sometimes.
posted by tyro urge at 6:05 PM on June 23, 2003

mnology, I don't know where to start. Let's go with because Coke and Dunkin' Donuts don't have our kid's best interest in mind. Quite the opposite. Plus there are several principled objections mentioned throughout this thread. I recommend reading it.
posted by squirrel at 6:35 PM on June 23, 2003

You're not paying for someone else's education, you're paying back the loan you were given in the form of a public education.
posted by Cerebus at 7:04 PM on June 23, 2003

tharlan, I hate once more to join the chorus criticizing you (especially after you looked in on my MeTa thread)), but I have to take issue with your stance against gov't education. This obviously goes to a deep difference in our political philosophy, but you seem to go with one Republican's statement that government is the problem, while I prefer another Republican's view of government. It seems to me that if you really want a totally laissez faire government, you are advocating anarchy; I find this interesting in theory, but don't want it to happen in the USA in my lifetime. To grab a concept from my link above, we are the goverment; if the government is bad, then we have only ourselves to blame. That should tie in nicely with conservative notions of self-responsibility, don't you think?

In a society as diverse as ours, public education (not compusory, but free) is essential to give everyone basic knowledge, as well as basic cultural background. Now what that cultural background is is an argument for another thread, but it seems to me that the vast majority of US citizens at least agree on those points.
posted by TedW at 7:20 PM on June 23, 2003

as well equipped as their counterparts in Sweden, Japan, Germany, France, Italy, or Korea.

Tangential, but please, do not hold up Korea's school system as anything worthy of emulation. It fails children in ways so bogglingly egregious as to make dancing bologna seem like a dream.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:25 PM on June 23, 2003

Let's go with because Coke and Dunkin' Donuts don't have our kid's best interest in mind. Quite the opposite.

You're saying that they have your kid's worst interest in mind? That's a bit hyperbolic. At worst, they don't care about your kid.
posted by kindall at 7:35 PM on June 23, 2003

"Oakdale is the beneficiary of business's new efforts to market products inside schools, encouraging students to influence their parents' purchases."

I don't know where The school, Oakdale Elementary in Frederick County, Md., is, but my guess is it isn't in an affluent neighbourhood and needs the money.

Yes, they are pimpin' their kids for money. Sanctioned by adults. Instead of raising hell to their local governments, the adults think this is a solution to a problem of no money?

No problem? There's a reason why white castles are located in less than desireable neighbourhoods. The people that eat there regularly aren't that up on what a good diet consists of and getting your money's worth for food that is much more sustaining.

Add that fact to the rise of overweightedness and diabetes in that target group, you have [as Outlawyr pointed out], prostituted soylent greens.

Looks like we have adults leading kids astray thinking bologna is food and that coke is a great replacement for water.

The American and Canadian Diabetes Associations face an uphill battle educating the public, one just needs to look at the manifestation of just that at Oakdale Elementary in Frederick County, Md. um, ignore the pharma logo on the Canadian site, ok? *shit*

Check out Focus on Type II Warnings

Oh my, indeed. This is a sad state of affairs, people.
posted by alicesshoe at 7:39 PM on June 23, 2003

Thinking back to my school years, we were pimped out to private business occasionally, but it all seemed kind of minor. Gathering on the school oval to be in a TV news show's promo. Collecting receipts from a certain supermarket chain to "win" prizes for the school. But somehow that all seems faily innocent compared to what seems to be going on in these US schools nowday, with all the channel 1 / Coke day stuff I'm constantly hearing about. I can't exactly put my finger on why though.

In terms of tharlan's comments, it always suprises me that people can't see the value of public education. Currently, pretty much the only thing first-world countries have going for them is knowledge, technology, development, "value adding". There really isn't a place for poorly educated people anymore, and the benefit of having everyone in the population as well educated as possible should be clear. And if it weren't for public education, the vast majority of people would get no education - surely not a desirable situation?
posted by Jimbob at 8:00 PM on June 23, 2003

Stavros - OK, the Korean school example was a gratuitous, slightly sloppy toss-off comment. I'm sure you're right........."so bogglingly egregious as to make dancing bologna seem like a dream." - hmmm. that could be really disturbing, depending on how much one likes bologna.

I'm not too fond of it though.
posted by troutfishing at 8:01 PM on June 23, 2003

"And if it weren't for public education, the vast majority of people would get no education - surely not a desirable situation?" - Jimbob, that depends on how rich you are or, more to the point, how many guards you can pay to defend your castle.
posted by troutfishing at 8:04 PM on June 23, 2003

...all those good social skills,"[Principal] Sherman said."

social skills?????
posted by jaronson at 8:53 PM on June 23, 2003


Coke and Dunkin' Donuts don't have our kid's best interest in mind. Quite the opposite.

You're saying that they have your kid's worst interest in mind? That's a bit hyperbolic. At worst, they don't care about your kid.

Another interpretation--and the one I intended--is that the corporations think more of their profits than of the kids' welfare. But even on your inferred point, in not wishing the best one needn't wish the worst. Sounds like the hyperbole is yours. :^)

And them not caring about my theoretical kid is not the worst situation: them spending time and money and political influence to program my kid to eat garbage is the worst situation.

also, what alicesshoe said so well.
posted by squirrel at 9:28 PM on June 23, 2003

social skills?????

Swallowing your pride to placate your bosses is a social skill. Admit it.

Oh, and kindall?

"The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. "--Elie Wiesel

Sorry: full of quotes today.

Metafilter: Dancing bologna seem[s] like a dream.
posted by tyro urge at 9:35 PM on June 23, 2003

I'm sorry squirrel. I've been reading the thread but see no pointed arguments as to how this negatively affects little Timmy's curricular development. The moral dilemmas he may face later in life and some embarrassing pictures, maybe. I'm supposed to accept that there's nothing good about funding school programs, for the sole reason that some kids pushed product for the man? What else could the school have done? Where was the community? Where was the local government? At least something was offered to them rather than go another school year without proper funding for popular electives. Do you really buy/eat/consume everything you see/hear/read? You think everyone else does?
posted by mnology at 9:43 PM on June 23, 2003

mnology, I for one pointed out that corporate shilling teaches kids to be consumers rather than critical thinkers. There were others, but I kinda don't see the point.

Second, an embarrassing picture isn't a moral dilemma.

Third, I think you're right about the role of the community and the local govt, but I'll go out on a limb and argue that they're getting starved by the feds while simultaneously doubling spending on federal mandates.

Fourth, the "at least they were given something" argument is a logical misdirection whose latin name eludes me. If they had been given a cinderblock birthday cake, that would have been something.

And finally, the it's-okay-because-it's-not-effective argument holds water about as far as the fact of the millions of dollars that the corps are pouring into these campaigns. Ineffective, my keester, meester.

You gotta do better than that.
posted by squirrel at 10:19 PM on June 23, 2003

Oop. Drop that second point. My bad read.
posted by squirrel at 10:26 PM on June 23, 2003

Alvin Toffler wrote that the purpose of industrial age schools was to teach children to come to work on time and listen to orders - in other words, to condition them to be good factory workers in a time when we needed good factory workers. (loosely paraphrased - sorry for not providing links)

Maybe now instead of good workers we need good consumers?

P.S. Since nobody else has thought to do so, let me be the first to welcome our dancing bologna overlords.
posted by cup at 2:15 AM on June 24, 2003

"[The covert curriculum] consisted - and still does in most industrialized nations - of three courses: one in punctuality, one in obedience and one in rote, repetitive work. Factory labor demanded workers who showed up on time, especially assembly-line hands. It demanded workers who would take orders from a management hierarchy without questioning. And it demanded men and women prepared to slave away at machines or in offices, performing brutally repetitious operations."

Toffler, Alvin
The Third Wave (ISBN 0-553-14431-6)
Page 29

If Mr. Toffler were to write the above quote today (and after reading this thread), it might look something like this:

"[The covert curriculum] consisted of three courses: one in shameless marketing to a captive audience, one in being a docile captive audience and one in being a dancing foodstuff. Companies who wanted to cut down on advertising costs demanded convertisers (consumer advertisers) who showed no shame. They demanded captive audiences who would be advertised to without questioning or considering the possibility that advertising to a captive audience may be meatspace's equivalent of spam. And they demanded men and women to dance away in suits of bologna, ham or cheese, performing brutally repetitious degradations."
posted by cup at 5:12 AM on June 24, 2003

You're saying that they have your kid's worst interest in mind? That's a bit hyperbolic. At worst, they don't care about your kid.

Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong.

And the FDA is likely also messing with you
posted by magullo at 5:23 AM on June 24, 2003

Magullo - thanks, I was aiming for that point. Let me rephrase:

mnology - Health has a major impact on learning. Donuts, Coke, and Bologna are bad for kid's health. So: promoting bad food detracts from kid's ability to learn. Simple.

As for curricula? - well, one art teacher I know was appalled by this story on the basis that (she said) the lesson the kids will draw is that artistic expression and commercial advertising are one and the same. You can view the dancing bologna as funny, sure. But some would see the phenomenon as a grotesque expression of human creativity.

This is how human creativity and artistic expression is expressed through performance art and music....

* and as the silver moon shone luminescent on the magical scene, the bologna, Coke and doughnuts waltzed the night away *
posted by troutfishing at 6:55 AM on June 24, 2003

The least they could do is give them a ride in the Weinermobile.
posted by MrBaliHai at 7:55 AM on June 24, 2003

in the public school system i worked in for the last 8 years, a little show called "channel 1" is aired every morning during stories, pop culture, and commercials. in addition, coca-cola owns the concessions (soft drink and candy machines, which we somehow survived without during my days in school). the kids are materialistic in the extreme, and see possessions as THE measure of self-worth.

majority african-american, most overweight, looking at high rates of hypertension and diabetes...

all hail...
posted by aiq at 8:03 AM on June 24, 2003

Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong.

Yes, those links demonstrate a blatant disregard on the part of junk food producers for the health of the people who eat their product. How does that make what I said wrong? If anything, it proves my point precisely. "At worst, they don't care."
posted by kindall at 8:09 AM on June 24, 2003

"I for one pointed out that corporate shilling teaches kids to be consumers rather than critical thinkers."

Subsititute "rather than" with "in addition to being" and I would completely agree. There is a separation between the corps and the schools. After the TV crews and PR reps are gone, you're still left with a school. A more equipped school at that. The way yours and similar arguments here are presented, suggests that any benefits derived from education after the point of corporate propaganda, are null and void. Whatever the children come away with after this point in relation to how they consume, will come back to how they pushed product, true. Although it doesn't scan that every educational aspect of whatever hypothetical children we are discussing, is negatively impacted. The kids will still learn to read and write. The schools will have more equipment. The corps will have moms and dads money, and possibly even more annoying kids asking for crap in the checkout line. Lumping everything together like this makes it easy to say that this is wrong. The educational process(the %99.999 percent of it not involved in bad food PR), the parents and children's spending habits, and corporate shilling are all separate issues.

magullo-Eating bad food bad for physical health on down the line to affecting education, yes. Promoting it, see above.
posted by mnology at 8:17 AM on June 24, 2003

Just to keep it interesting, let's recall that not everybody agrees that more computer equipment is an unqualified positive development for a grade school - and if it is, not one large enough to trump the pitfalls of enforced consumerism. Healey's Failure to Connect documents the many ways computers can and cannot be used effectively in conjunction with the child's growing brain.

Also, my kids go to a school where the dress code even bars shirts with logos on them. Not to say that's the answer, just want you to keep in mind these schools, and perspectives, are out there.
posted by soyjoy at 8:37 AM on June 24, 2003 doesn't scan that every educational aspect of whatever hypothetical children we are discussing, is negatively impacted.

I don't hear anyone saying that every aspect of anything is impacted negatively or positively, and that shouldn't be a requirement. Simplistic notions of unqualified bad and good don't serve the pursuit of which is better. Sure, educational materials are good, but that must be weighed against the price paid. Following your logic, mnology, a guy could steal your wallet and give you a sandwich and say, "hey, at least he has a sandwich."

Btw, great thread. Nary a piss-fit.
posted by squirrel at 9:25 AM on June 24, 2003

That metaphor sucks! ;)
posted by mnology at 9:33 AM on June 24, 2003

After the TV crews and PR reps are gone, you're still left with a school.

And if the PR reps never leave?
posted by eddydamascene at 9:44 AM on June 24, 2003

Oh geez...the Oscar Meyer wiener song and the Bologna song are almost as much a part of our American culture as God Bless America, White Christmas and Row Row Row Your Boat. It's harmless.

And heart disease is our leading cause of death. Harmless? That's just baloney.
posted by scarabic at 10:53 AM on June 24, 2003

Soyjoy, you might enjoy Clifford Stoll's take on the worth of computers in the classroom. He certainly feels (and I agree) that no amount of computer equipment can replace human teaching, and that the money needed to maintain and upgrade a computer network could be better spent elsewhere.

And if it weren't for public education, the vast majority of people would get no education
This is probably (not putting words in anyone's mouth) a central tenet of the philospohies of troutfishing, Jimbob, and TedW.

Before modern public education in this country, "Most institutions only provided educational opportunities for boys from wealthy families." So it certainly seems possible that the ranks of the uneducated would swell dramaticlly without public education. And I have to disagree with the first article you linked. The author nearly lost me at the beginning when she states that public education is to blame for drug use, violence, and illiteracy. I think all of these would be worse if there were no public education. But I stuck it out and discovered that she is not in favor of eliminating public education at all: " If a young person’s parents are too poor to pay for his education or to pay income taxes, and if he cannot find a private sponsor to finance him, the public schools would still be available to him." She seems to be more in favor of a voucher program, which is a discussion for another time.

The second article you cite does indicate that a lot of others feel the smae way you do, but that does not address the merits of your ideas.

My concern about the demise of public education, though, stems not only from my fear that fewer people would be educated without it, but also that with a patchwork of unaccountable private schools, the education students get would vary widely in content, quality, and quantity, thus contributing to the Balkanization of our country.
posted by TedW at 11:21 AM on June 24, 2003

trharlan - given that some in US society will have the 20-40 thousand to pay per year for high quality high schools (or prep schools) while that sum would amount to the yearly income of many Americans in the lower economic class.......and that this leaves out other factors - such as access to decent nutrition, quality of parental care (hard to take decent care of kids when one can't afford day care), a decent, peacefull home and surrounding environment, and on and on: all of which the working US poor and lower economic classes are hard pressed to provide for their kids, for a number of quite legitimate reasons........

Well, it seems to me that you are arguing for institutionalized inequality.

You could make an argument that these inequalities were representative of genetically driven differences in ability in the overall population, sure.

But then you'd have Mefi'ers hurling themselves, kamikaze like, at your argument and, besides, that seems to be contradicted by the data: inequality in societies varies dramatically from country to country even among similar population goups and, meanwhile, also fluctuates within a given country over time. So the US GINI index moved, from 1948 to 1970, to a progressively more even income distribution. Did the aggregate US genome also somehow fluctuate accordingly? I doubt it.

Those inequality stats could be, I'll grant, partly to do with the more progressive income distribution priorities and tax structure of the US Federal Gov. during the 1948-1970 period. But this was also a period, though, of sustained economic growth which has not been, I believe, matched since. So...

One can make the argument that the redistributive function of government benefits the overall economy: less inequality translates into less class envy, less crime, less spent on private security devices, private guards abnd private armies even. (These things are officially part of the GNP, yes, but they sure don't add to quality of life or even necessarily to overall productivity.) There's a reason that Brazil and the US have similarly absurdly high violent crime and murder rates: similar levels of societal inequality. The US CIA and the World Bank both note the correlation between inequality and internecine civil strife (even civil war) within nations.

Reducing income inequality in the US - for quite pragmatic reasons having nothing to do with socialism - has long been a concern of economists and industrialists.

Henry Ford summed it up best when he noticed that, unless there was a demand for his cars, it was pointless for him to produce them. Ford realized that the best thing he could do to sell his cars was to promote the emergence of a middle class in the US which could afford to buy his cars.

To this end, he paid his factory workers wages which were thought to be extremely high for the time, but Ford's strategy worked very, very well. ( see; Fordism and Fordism: Gramsci's view )

But lately, Fordism has been breaking down: the US middle class has been little by little slipping towards poverty. The current fears of deflation have to do with this in a crucial way: Henry Ford's industrial-goods-buying, affluent middle class is shrinking

Meanwhile, back to the dancing bologna.........
posted by troutfishing at 11:22 AM on June 24, 2003

trharlan (and anyone else who's still checking this thread)

Work out how much income tax you pay.
Calculate the percentage of that tax that would go towards public education.
Imagine you have that percentage back in your pocket - you can now spend it on private education for your kids.
Would it pay for a year's private schooling?
What if you double it? Triple it?
What if you were from a much lower income background?

It's never going to work, no matter what the Ayn Randites believe.
posted by Jimbob at 5:58 PM on June 24, 2003

trharlan: From your link, it's claimed that 40% of Americans would end public education.

I'll counter by pointing out that fully half of all Americans believe that at least one of the 19 9/11 hijackers was an Iraqi, that more than 30% of Americans believe that chemical weapons have actually been found in Iraq, and that 22% believe that Iraqis actually used chemical weapons on our troops. I couldn't find the stats on how many Americans believe we never went to the Moon, but IIRC it's more than a standard deviation.

In other words, you can get a significant portion of the American public to believe in any damn thing, no matter how nutty. It's generally a bad idea to try to justify your opinions by pointing out how popular they are. A crowd can be just as wrong as a person.
posted by Cerebus at 10:58 PM on June 24, 2003

trharlan, (re: country music) finally we agree on something. ;) And I would just point out--by way of beating this dead horse a leeetle more--that I'm less concerned with making education less expensive than I am with making it more effective. Currently, I see degradation wherever corporate interests wiener-dance their way into the classroom. I know you see otherwise, and that's cool.
posted by squirrel at 11:20 AM on June 25, 2003

trharlan - You know, there's quite a lot of innovation going on in public education all the time. Scholars do rigourous empirical studies, and the results are reported on in scholarly journals and even incorporated into teaching methods and curricula.

I'm not convinced that profit-driven schools would be improvement on this.

Here's a thought experiment: assume that a private, for profit company developed a sci-fi like solution of high speed teaching - hook the kids to a machine, inject some substance, whatever, which would impart a whole high school curriculum in 10 minutes. Would this be a good thing? Who would determine the curriculum? And wouldn't the fact that everyone thought along simlar lines as a result be actually bad for market capitalism, due to the fact that diversity (as in the evolutionary process) breeds a wider range of solutions?

I have friends in the Baltimore school system who teach in "for profit" schools. They cannot determine their curricula at all. They are forced to read, quite literally, from scripts.

In this case, the "Free Enterprise" approach resembles, more than anything, the old Soviet or Chinese Maoist styles of rote indoctrination: it's quite totalitarian.
posted by troutfishing at 7:54 AM on June 27, 2003

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