With the stagnant economy undercutting the state budget, and putting further pressure on the already-limited funding available for public education, classrooms are starting to feel the crunch. To try to bridge the widening gap between available funds and the cost of supplies, one high school teacher in California has been selling advertising space on tests and quizzes. The editorial board of The Miami Student supports this teacher’s creative solution, but with a few stipulations.
In the face of budget cuts, schools have had to find ways to make due with less. But by selling ad space, this teacher, Tom Farber, has enabled his class to function as it has in the past. Teachers aren’t paid a high salary anyway and often pay for supplies out of their own pocket. But it is impractical for teachers to cover the difference between what the department can afford and what the class needs when that amount often runs in the hundreds of dollars. Unable to cover the cost of paper with the funds allotted by the school budget, Farber would have had to give fewer or shorter tests. Instead of risking under-preparing his students, he took the initiative and offered a solution. To pay for printing the tests, he started selling ad space in them.We appreciate that rather than complain about having to make cuts he made an effort to fix the problem.
Farber has said he intends this to be a temporary measure. We agree that this solution can only work in the short term. It should not replace government funding. In fact, an increase in government funding in better economic times would eliminate the need for teachers to create such solutions.
Also thus far, the ads have appeared only on the first page of quizzes and tests. We believe this is appropriate and that in the future, ads should be kept to a minimum and restricted to words, not pictures, which could serve as a distraction to the students.
We appreciate that Farber has only sold ads to locally-owned businesses and parents and has not let advertising on his exams become overly commercialized. This has the added benefit of getting parents involved in the school system and their children’s education as well.
With the failure of many school levies in southwestern Ohio, the shortages in school funds will only become worse. Creative solutions like Farber’s can help and we encourage teachers to be proactive in the process. However, advertising on tests is meant to be only a stopgap measure where a permanent solution is still necessary. A more comprehensive approach must be taken to address a problem that is likely to continue to grow in the foreseeable future.