Stand Up for Commercial-Free School Buses

The commercialization of our schools could get a lot worse in the coming months.

Faced with unprecedented budget shortfalls, many states are considering overturning long-standing laws that prohibit advertising on school buses.  If this new legislation passes, school buses could be transformed into traveling billboards for everything from fast food to violent and sexualized media.

That’s why we’ve created the School Bus Ad Action Center.  There you’ll find summaries of each of the state bills, updates on their status, and links so you can urge your legislators to oppose this commercial escalation.

We at CCFC are enormously concerned about the financial plight of schools.  But commercializing our children’s education is not the answer.  Advertising on school buses exploits a captive audience of students and undermines parents who wish to shield their children from commercial influences.  It also undermines the educational process.  Anything advertised on a school bus will have that school’s implicit endorsement—regardless of its potential harm to children.  All of the proposed legislation would prohibit products such as alcohol and tobacco from being advertised, but junk food and other harmful products would still be allowed.  And if schools turn down certain advertisers they deem inappropriate for their buses, they could be subject to costly First Amendment challenges. 

School bus advertising may even make school buses less safe: the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services opposes allowing advertising on the exterior of school buses because of concerns it will distract other drivers.  

And while schools shouldn’t sell students out for any price, it’s worth noting that allowing advertising on buses won’t even make a dent in schools’ deficits.  School bus advertising in Colorado Springs only generates $40,000—in a district with more than 27,000 students.(1)  By selling ad space on its 103 buses, the Thompson School District in Colorado only generated about $3,000 per year—about $.20 per student.(2)  Ypsilanti, Michigan stopped placing ads on its school buses when revenue fell far short of projections.(3)

It was your opposition that stopped the controversial BusRadio from airing its commercialized broadcasts on school buses.  Together, we can stop this latest commercial intrusion into the lives of schoolchildren.  Please visit our 2012 School Bus Ad Action Center to tell your legislators to vote “No” on school bus ads.

If you live in FL, ID, KY, OH, OK, RI, UT or WA, please click here to tell your state legislature that every child should have a commercial-free school bus.