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It’s no secret that California schools have had financial difficulties for quite some time, having dealt with years and years of budget cuts. And now with the state’s near bankrupt situation, there aren’t any signs of improvement in the near future.
So exactly how bad is it?
Tom Farber, a calculus teacher in Southern California, is selling ad space on his tests to generate revenue to buy much-needed supplies. The going rate is $10 for a quiz, $20 for an exam and $30 for the final exam (which has already sold out). The ads consist of a single line of text across the bottom of the first page. Farber so far has raised $350 which will go toward the $500 a year he typically spends on paper for his exams.
Most of the ad buys are by parents offering words of encouragement, though a few local business are also taking part. An ad run by a dentist mixes inspiration with a soft sales pitch: “Brace Yourself for a Great Semester! Braces by Henry.”
There’s no denying that teachers need to do something to help make up the difference for budget cuts. According to the National Education Association, the average teacher spends more than $400 of their own money on school supplies for their classroom. I think that figure is pretty conservative—my wife is a teacher and she’s already spent that much during the first semester!
So will this trend take off? If schools continue to suffer budget cuts (which they will), they’ll be forced to look at creative ways to raise funds (which they are). Selling ad space can help many schools fill the money gap, as well as offer advertisers access to a highly-coveted demographic: teens. The key for advertisers who decide to follow Henry the Dentist’s lead is to amp up the inspiration and dial down the hard sell. I think Peter Parker’s dear Uncle Ben put it best: “With great power comes great responsibility.”