December 4th, 2008 at 03:42pm
It’s a pity that this teacher is a maths teacher, because he would make an excellent Business Studies teacher:
Tom Farber gives a lot of tests. He’s a calculus teacher, after all.
So when administrators at Rancho Bernardo, his suburban San Diego high school, announced the district was cutting spending on supplies by nearly a third, Farber had a problem. At 3 cents a page, his tests would cost more than $500 a year. His copying budget: $316. But he wanted to give students enough practice for the big tests they’ll face in the spring, such as the Advanced Placement exam.
Hmm, it’s a basic problem of business, what we want to do costs this much, but we don’t have enough funds to cover it…what can we do to cover our costs? Tom’s solution was ingenious.
“Tough times call for tough actions,” he says. So he started selling ads on his test papers: $10 for a quiz, $20 for a chapter test, $30 for a semester final.
San Diego magazine and The San Diego Union-Tribune featured his plan just before Thanksgiving, and Farber came home from a few days out of town to 75 e-mail requests for ads. So far, he has collected $350. His semester final is sold out.
Not everyone is convinced of the merits of the idea though
That worries Robert Weissman, managing director of Commercial Alert, a Washington-based non-profit that fights commercialization in school and elsewhere. If test-papers-as-billboards catches on, he says, schools in the grip of tough economic times could start relying on them to help the bottom line.
“The advertisers are paying for something, and it’s access to kids,” he says.
About two-thirds of Farber’s ads are inspirational messages underwritten by parents. Others are ads for local businesses, such as two from a structural engineering firm and one from a dentist who urges students, “Brace Yourself for a Great Semester!”
The school doesn’t seem to be worried though, hinting that there are limits as to who can advertise.
Principal Paul Robinson says reaction has been “mixed,” but he notes, “It’s not like, ‘This test is brought to you by McDonald’s or Nike.’ “
One can only hope though that the New South Wales government don’t get any ideas, because a statement like this:
To Farber, 47, it’s a logical solution: “We’re expected to do more with less.”
Because if they do, then we might see entire schools being built out of advertising billboards as they try to find money to plug their never-ending budget holes.
Entry Filed under: General News