Schools as Marketing Targets

Kids and adults these days are assaulted by advertising nearly everywhere they turn. But the classroom should remain a safe haven from hungry retailers.

A measure in Congress would encourage schools using federal funds to notify parents before allowing a company to collect information about a student for commercial purposes.

One collection method comes through companies that sell schools the kind of Internet filtering devices that restrict access to pornography websites. Such software can also be used to gather information about a student's interests on the Web - information sought by market-research firms eager to tap the lucrative youth market. And in some instances, ads also flash on those in-school computers.

Schools are for learning, not market research. They should be doing more to safeguard children from such commercial intrusion. Unless they act on their own, yet another federal hand may soon come down on them.

Businesses do have a role in education. They can lend financial and other kinds of support, and be recognized for such. But educators and businesses also need to recognize the boundaries - and stay within them.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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