Market Research In Schools

In the article "Schools Profit From Offering Pupils for Market

Research", Mary Tabor explains the new relationship between schools and
businesses. During the school day, businesses use children as willing subjects
of market research. They do such things as taste tests and answer opinion polls.

This is a difficult subject to pick a definite side on, because both sides have
good arguments. This paper will explain both sides and come up with a solution.

Almost anyone will agree that exploiting children is bad. Students are in school
to learn and taking polls and taste tests are in no way an education. Through
this market research, the companies are merely trying to find an easier way to
target children. This situation is similar to the calls that people get at home.

It is dinnertime and the phone rings. Mom jumps up from the dinner table and
answers the phone. It is a market research firm and they would like to ask Mom a
few questions. Mom is angered by the call and hangs up. This is a prime example
of market research and the inconvenience it causes. Advertisers realize that
schools are the perfect places to develop new markets. Kids can not hang up the
phone or change the channel. Schools used to be the only place where children
were not targeted. Children are entitled to have a place where they can feel no
one will be trying to sell them something. If children are constantly exposed to
this kind of market research they will begin to think that their education is
not important. They will not be able to focus in class, because they will be
waiting for the next poll or taste test. This is detrimental to do during class
time. It is commendable that the school asked the parents for permission before
letting the companies come in to do their research. Unfortunately, this market
research has opened the doors to other marketing. Direct marketing to kids has
already begun in some schools. Kids in elementary school and high school walk
around with Nestle and Calvin Klein book covers. Soon students will be sitting
in Pepsi owned chairs, at Pizza Hut desks, with Oreo school bags, looking at a

Campbell's chalkboard. As funny as this may sound, it is a definite possibility.

According to a recent Time magazine article, the district administrators in

Plymouth, Mich. are considering auctioning school names to the highest bidding
corporation. Imagine sending kids off to McDonald's Elementary or Coca-Cola

High. It may not end there. The situation may snowball into something terribly
worse. What if they begin to recruit our children as actual workers? Even if the
work was fun or educational, that is unacceptable. Childhood should be the least
stressful time in life and work will make the children hardened with the real
world. These market research companies should be taken out of the schools and
kept away from the children. On the other hand, there is some truth to what

Secretary of Education, Richard Bailey is says, "Better education is
everybody's business"(Labi 45). The government spends more money on the
military services than on a good education for our children. It is reasonable to
say that military service does not need all the funds it receives. However, the
funds are still used for unnecessary technology and nuclear weapons we will not
ever use or need to use. Meanwhile, the children responsible for our future sit
in rotting desks with faded, outdated textbooks, in classrooms filled to maximum
capacity, listening to an underpaid and overworked teacher. It is no wonder so
many children do not even bother going to college and beyond. So it is up to the
school officials to find a means of paying for important educational equipment,
such as books, computers, and video equipment. It is no surprise, that schools
turn to the people who have money and are willing to spend it on the future. For
many years now, schools have had agreements with companies that supply schools
with learning tools in exchange product sales. Students in most schools collect
box tops, soup labels, and store receipts. The school can redeem them for
athletic or educational equipment. Schools, especially in the inner cities are
burdened by financial debts trying to provide for their students. In a way,
these corporations are providing children with a good future. The Noggin
television show is also doing it for a good reason. It is an educational
television show with no commercials for the children. Obviously, it is a great
idea that they go straight to the source to find out what kids think about life
these days. The researchers are letting the kids voice their opinions, and that
is important. Kids today are a lot more knowledgeable about the world than
generations before. Yet, we still ignore them when it comes to major decisions.

All of these companies are not merely out for cash or they would be getting it
some other way. These companies care about the children, they are doing what
they can to help and they are letting these kids speak their minds. In order to
appease both sides of this argument, a line must be drawn. First and foremost,
we must protect the children. We must not allow the kids to be abused by these
companies. If a company was to come in and do research, they should only be
allowed to do it after school. This way, children will not have an interrupted
learning day. The parents must be informed of what will take place, and
permission must be granted before the children can participate. School policy
should also have strict guidelines as to what may be allowed. They should draw
the line after taste tests, polls, a few journal assignments, and contests.

Putting our children to work would be detrimental to their health and future.

Direct marketing may not be as bad as it sounds. In colleges around the country,
soda companies take over campuses. LaSalle is a great example of that. Here, the
only soda brand sold is Coca-Cola. This is not a bad idea. Letting soda
companies or other food companies sponsor schools is not detrimental. As long as
there are not sales people roaming the hallways trying to sell to kids as they
go to class. It is a good way for a school to make money. As for selling company
names to schools, that is up to the school district and the residents of the
community. If they really want a McDonald's High, that is their decision. There
are good and bad options to both sides. If the government can make guidelines
for schools to follow, there should not be any problems.


Labi, Nadya. Classrooms for Sale: Schools need money. Big business has it.

The twain now meet, but are our kids paying the price? TIME. April 19, 1999.