Children, by their very nature, are stupid and easy to manipulate… which is why, over the years, we’ve seen corporations so aggressively pushing to increase their presence in our schools. It’s just good business. If you’re a company selling something like soda, it makes a lot more sense to target impressionable young kids with your advertising dollars than it does adults, who have likely already made up their minds as to which brand of brown, corn syrup-sweetened water they’ll be guzzling right up until the point when their flabby, carmel-colored hearts stop beating. You’d probably have to spend upwards of a thousand dollars to convince your average 50 year old Coke drinker to make the switch to Pepsi, whereas all you probably need to convince a 10 year old is a sexy ad or two delivered by way of the corporate-sponsored, in-school, current events television network Channel One. Not only does Channel One reach approximately 5 million American students a day, but it reaches them in an environment where they’re not able to walk away or turn the channel. They’re trapped. And, if you believe the research, it works extremely well for advertisers. According to the New York Times, “In 2006, the American Academy of Pediatrics reported that research indicated that children who watched Channel One remembered the commercials more than they remembered the news.”
So it really shouldn’t be any surprise that we have corporations tripping over themselves to get at our kids, offering pay struggling school districts for the right to on-bus advertising, or offering free “sponsored educational materials” to those schools that can no longer afford books. (Subway has a great series of brochures about healthy eating featuring a giant, talking submarine sandwich.) Every big company you can imagine is getting in on the action. According to Corporate Watch, Kellogg’s, McDonalds and Nabisco Mars candy all sponsor K-12 nutrition curricula in our schools. And, as you might expect, these materials slant the facts in order to promote corporate agendas. “McDonald’s,” says Corporate Watch, for example, “teaches about deforestation, without mentioning the ‘burger connection’ to rain forest destruction.” As for the impact, it’s hard to say at this point. One would suspect, however, that kids receiving their environmental education, for instance, from the likes of Dupont, Dow Chemical, Proctor and Gamble and the Polystyrene Council, might be less inclined as adults to protest these corporations and demand action on global warming.
And, here’s the best part. It looks as though America’s cults are getting in on the action as well. The following comes from Tampa Bay Times.
The children were fed candy and pizza, given Scientology books and DVDs, and shown a performance of a play written by Scientology’s late founder, L. Ron Hubbard. Some posed for photos with Santa Claus in front of a silver Scientology cross.
It was, as Life Force leaders had promised, a Christmas party, the school’s first since a small Clearwater company called Art of Management had been hired to reorganize the school as it filed for bankruptcy.
Though company president Hanan Islam was also executive director of the World Literacy Crusade, a California organization that promotes Scientology study methods, she had reassured parents then that her group would “not push any religion” at the school.
But as Life Force parents stood in one of Scientology’s newest churches, dedicated last year by Scientology’s worldwide leader, David Miscavige, some felt their trust had been betrayed.
Some parents and former teachers at Life Force, which receives about $800,000 a year in public funding, say the Pinellas County charter school has become a Scientology recruiting post targeting children.
Opened to serve a low-income Clearwater neighborhood and advertising classes in computers and modern dance, Life Force had begun pushing Hubbard’s “study technology,” which critics call a Trojan horse Scientology uses to infiltrate public classrooms…
And lest you think it’s just charter school teachers in Florida who are being handed copies of L. Ron Hubbard’s Learning How to Learn (seen above) or instructed on how to integrate the Scientology-created phonics program, Smart Way, it’s not. In fact, inroads are being made here, in Michigan.
According to an MLive report a few days ago, the Flint City Council is considering an offer to distribute L. Ron Hubbard’s The Way to Happiness to all of their school-aged citizens. The booklet, we’re told, seeks to convey Hubbard’s moral code by way of 21 principles. These include; “Don’t Be Promiscuous,” “Be Temperate,” and “Do Not Murder.”
“I think it’s a good deal,” Police Chief James Tolbert said of the program, according to MLive. “From the information I’ve seen, apparently it works. I’m for anything that works.”
As long as we’re willing to try “anything that works,” how about we roll-back the tax breaks on the wealthy, hire back all of the experienced teachers that we let go over the past decade, and begin, once again, to take the education of the next generation seriously? I mean, that worked for a hell of a long time in America, didn’t it?