We wanted to make sure you didn't miss the announcement of our new Sustainer program. Once you've finished reading, take a moment to check out the new program, as well as all the benefits of becoming a Sustainer.
Well, now those old-fashioned field trips are being updated … and commercialized. Why send kids to the farm when we can send them to Petco, the national chain that sells animals to kids? Teachers bring classes into the local Petco outlet, where the kids hear a talking parrot, see an exotic lizard, pet a puppy … and get coupons for free goldfish. “By the weekend,” says a Petco official, “at least 10 [of the kids] will be here with their families to show them what they got to see—and to redeem the coupon.”
Good grief … they’re turning field trips into come-ons for tiny shoppers, teaching the crass art of consumerism. If we let this go on, they’ll be taking the tykes into toy stores next. Too late. Toys “R” Us already is hosting school field trips, offering a “mighty minds” tour of the store that lets students use the toys, puzzles, art supplies and other goodies for sale there.
This branding of young minds has become its own industry, with companies like the Field Trip Factory operating as go-betweens to link local schools with corporate chains. This one company set up 3,300 of these student tours at Petco stores last school year.
Obviously, the chains get access to impressionable little buyers who’re conveniently delivered to them by their teachers—no advertising campaign could match that. But what do the schools get? In these times of cutbacks in school budgets, they get a prepackaged, cheap outing for their classes. As one school official happily exclaimed about the corporate jaunts, “We can provide kids with experiences at no cost.”
No cost? The cost is in the integrity of the educational experience and in the commercialization of our children. To help stop it, get support behind the Parents’ Bill of Rights being circulated by the watchdog group Commercial Alert. Call 503-235-8012.
We surveyed thousands of readers and asked what they would like to see in a monthly giving program. Now, for the first time, we're offering three different levels of support, with rewards at each level, including a magazine subscription, books, tote bags, events and more—all starting at less than 17 cents a day. Check out the new Sustainer program.