Market Research In Schools In the article “Schools Profit From Offering Pupils for Market Research”, Mary Tabor explains the new relationship between schools and businesses. During the school day, businesses use children as willing subjects of market research. They do such things as taste tests and answer opinion polls. This is a difficult subject to pick a definite side on, because both sides have good arguments. This paper will explain both sides and come up with a solution.
Almost anyone will agree that exploiting children is bad. Students are in school to learn and taking polls and taste tests are in no way an education. Through this market research, the companies are merely trying to find an easier way to target children. This situation is similar to the calls that people get at home. It is dinnertime and the phone rings.
Mom jumps up from the dinner table and answers the phone. It is a market research firm and they would like to ask Mom a few questions. Mom is angered by the call and hangs up. This is a prime example of market research and the inconvenience it causes. Advertisers realize that schools are the perfect places to develop new markets. Kids can not hang up the phone or change the channel.
Schools used to be the only place where children were not targeted. Children are entitled to have a place where they can feel no one will be trying to sell them something. If children are constantly exposed to this kind of market research they will begin to think that their education is not important. They will not be able to focus in class, because they will be waiting for the next poll or taste test. This is detrimental to do during class time. It is commendable that the school asked the parents for permission before letting the companies come in to do their research.
Unfortunately, this market research has opened the doors to other marketing. Direct marketing to kids has already begun in some schools. Kids in elementary school and high school walk around with Nestle and Calvin Klein book covers. Soon students will be sitting in Pepsi owned chairs, at Pizza Hut desks, with Oreo school bags, looking at a Campbell’s chalkboard. As funny as this may sound, it is a definite possibility. According to a recent Time magazine article, the district administrators in Plymouth, Mich. are considering auctioning school names to the highest bidding corporation.
Imagine sending kids off to McDonald’s Elementary or Coca-Cola High. It may not end there. The situation may snowball into something terribly worse. What if they begin to recruit our children as actual workers? Even if the work was fun or educational, that is unacceptable. Childhood should be the least stressful time in life and work will make the children hardened with the real world.
These market research companies should be taken out of the schools and kept away from the children. On the other hand, there is some truth to what Secretary of Education, Richard Bailey is says, “Better education is everybody’s business”(Labi 45). The government spends more money on the military services than on a good education for our children. It is reasonable to say that military service does not need all the funds it receives. However, the funds are still used for unnecessary technology and nuclear weapons we will not ever use or need to use. Meanwhile, the children responsible for our future sit in rotting desks with faded, outdated textbooks, in classrooms filled to maximum capacity, listening to an underpaid and overworked teacher.
It is no wonder so many children do not even bother going to college and beyond. So it is up to the school officials to find a means of paying for important educational equipment, such as books, computers, and video equipment. It is no surprise, that schools turn to the people who have money and are willing to spend it on the future. For many years now, schools have had agreements with companies that supply schools with learning tools in exchange product sales. Students in most schools collect box tops, soup labels, and store receipts. The school can redeem them for athletic or educational equipment.
Schools, especially in the inner cities are burdened by financial debts trying to provide for their students. In a way, these corporations are providing children with a good future. The Noggin television show is also doing it for a good reason. It is an educational television show with no commercials for the children. Obviously, it is a great idea that they go straight to the source to find out what kids think about life these days.
The researchers are letting the kids voice their opinions, and that is important. Kids today are a lot more knowledgeable about the world than generations before. Yet, we still ignore them when it comes to major decisions. All of these companies are not merely out for cash or they would be getting it some other way. These companies care about the children, they are doing what they can to help and they are letting these kids speak their minds.
In order to appease both sides of this argument, a line must be drawn. First and foremost, we must protect the children. We must not allow the kids to be abused by these companies. If a company was to come in and do research, they should only be allowed to do it after school. This way, children will not have an interrupted learning day.
The parents must be informed of what will take place, and permission must be granted before the children can participate. School policy should also have strict guidelines as to what may be allowed. They should draw the line after taste tests, polls, a few journal assignments, and contests. Putting our children to work would be detrimental to their health and future. Direct marketing may not be as bad as it sounds.
In colleges around the country, soda companies take over campuses. LaSalle is a great example of that. Here, the only soda brand sold is Coca-Cola. This is not a bad idea. Letting soda companies or other food companies sponsor schools is not detrimental.
As long as there are not sales people roaming the hallways trying to sell to kids as they go to class. It is a good way for a school to make money. As for selling company names to schools, that is up to the school district and the residents of the community. If they really want a McDonald’s High, that is their decision. There are good and bad options to both sides.
If the government can make guidelines for schools to follow, there should not be any problems. Bibliography Labi, Nadya. Classrooms for Sale: Schools need money. Big business has it. The twain now meet, but are our kids paying the price? TIME.
April 19, 1999.