Ken@Popehat flags a particularly absurd example:
Thirteen years ago, at Greenbrier High School in Evans, Georgia, senior Mike Cameron’s smart mouth got him in trouble.
What did he do? Did he talk about drugs and God, like that “Bong Hits For Jesus” kid? Oh, no. Mike did something far worse than promoting demon weed or disrespecting Christ: he risked offending Greenbrier High’s corporate sponsor. Mike wore a Pepsi shirt on Coke Day. It earned him a suspension.
“I know it sounds bad — `Child suspended for wearing Pepsi shirt on Coke Day,’” said Gloria Hamilton, principal of Greenbrier High School in Evans, about 130 miles east of Atlanta, the world headquarters of Coca-Cola. `’It really would have been acceptable if it had just been in- house, but we had the regional president here and people flew in from Atlanta to do us the honor of being resource speakers. These students knew we had guests.” Friday’s Coke in Education Day was part of Greenbrier’s effort to win a $500 local contest run by the Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of Augusta and a national contest with a $10,000 prize.
Adequately funded public schools don’t need to rely on “corporate sponsors” to raise money. This is the kind of conflict-of-interest that can (and will) occur when you spend all your time complaining about property taxes and over-paid teachers, and less time worrying about whether your school can pay the bills.
Now obviously a well funded private school would have no need to resort to corporate sponsorship either. But therein lies the rub: schools desperate for funds are obviously going to seek alternative revenue sources, and selling out to private sponsors makes sense from a fiscal standpoint. Private schools are particularly vulnerable to this remedy because, in theory, they are competing against one another; and the quality of services they can provide will depend in part on the amount of money they bring in. And the problem with bringing corporate sponsors in on a business arrangement is that they generally expect to be compensated for their investment, whether by marketing, advertising, or whatever. In this case, it means the entire institution temporarily became a monument to the Coca-cola corporation as they tried to win funds from the Corporate High Viceroy-Lords of High Fructose Corn Syrup. Free thinking goes out the window, and dissenters are punished for veering from the “educational” message.
This quote from the principal’s office says it all:
Cameron was sent to the principal’s office, where he said Hamilton “talked about how important that day was to the school and that I might have cost the school 10 grand.”
Oh well. At least there’s an up-side to the story:
Pepsi spokesman Brad Shaw said, “Without knowing all the details, it sounds like Mike’s obviously a trendsetter with impeccable taste in clothes. We’re going to make sure he’s got plenty of Pepsi shirts to wear in the future once we track him down.”