Does Education Really Need the Dough?

Jul 4, 2012

Marketing is my beat. Not education.

But USA Today reported recently that public schools are selling advertising because the public won’t support public education any more.

CVS Drug chain paid schools in Virginia to promote flu shots on hall posters. Staples will pay to sponsor school supply lists in California and Texas. There are many examples.

But that’s not what struck me. There’s been advertising in public school sports for decades. What struck me was the statement that the public won’t support public education any more.

A reader on the newspaper’s web site reported these findings from the National Center for Education Statistics: in 1961 per-pupil spending nationally was $399. Adjusted for inflation, that would have been $2,008. Actual per-pupil spending in the U.S. in 2008, the last year available, was $10,441.

That’s almost four times as much in inflation-adjusted dollars in the last fifty years. Only Switzerland spends more on education per pupil than the United States.

If school boards think selling advertising is a good idea, why not? But considering the facts, it’s a real whopper to claim that schools need the dough because Americans no longer will support education.


To reach Mr. Malmo, hear and read more of his commentaries, or to ask him your own marketing question, go to