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By Oscar Chemiak

What's up with seeing a corporate logo every time you turn the corner in a school hallway? It's simple. Reduced dollars for public education means that schools are scrambling to find new sources of income. Corporate sponsors seem like the answer, or are they?
On the surface, it looks harmless enough. Schools need money and corporations benefit by appearing to be partners in the education process. It isn't all as nice as it may appear though; they're businesses after all.

Sponsored arrangements have the same kind of restrictions one would expect in a contract situation, which means there is no room for free choice. Sponsors won't look the other way should you want to provide your student body another option, whether it's different beverages or a scoreboard that isn't plastered with a corporate logo. While there are associations now forming to create a generic logo to be used in sponsorship arrangements, there are still a huge number of students and parents being brought into the commercial fold by buying the sponsor's products either through limited options or by simply being submerged in the corporate culture until buying the product seem like the 'right' thing to do.

Extensive marketing studies have shown that consumers develop loyalty to a product through repeated exposure; people tend to want to be part of a larger group; consumers feel obligated to buy if they feel they've been 'given' something (think about all those samples that are handed out). Talk about a recipe for success when it comes to school sponsorships! How could most corporations resist when they have hundreds of captive consumers both present and future in the parents and students?

What's the answer to this situation? More publicly funded money for education. What's the chance of this happening? Slim.


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