School board set to expel corporate
By JONATHAN WOODWARD
Globe and Mail
November 5, 2005 Page S3
VANCOUVER -- Spurred by visions of children
learning to count using an M&M math book or
singing corporate cheers during the
unveiling of a Home Depot-sponsored
playground, the Vancouver School Board is
set to eject corporate logos from school
The new policy, which is expected to be
approved on Monday night by a COPE-dominated
school board, will stop companies from
donating sports uniforms with their brands
on them, put an end to gym ads and stop the
practice of putting coupons with report
cards at the end of the year, board chair
Adrienne Montani said.
"Schools should be commercial-free zones,
and we don't think that marketing to
children in our schools is a good thing,"
she said. "Parents send their children to
school for an education."
Donor companies should expect reasonable
recognition for their efforts in the form of
a plaque, but any logos or marketing
materials would be restricted to
adult-oriented thank-you celebrations, she
"We welcome their partnership, but in an
The new stand is a result of more than a
year of hearings to revamp the school
board's policies on advertising and
sponsorship, and goes further than those at
most other B.C. school boards, all of which
are wrestling with allowing sponsorship, Ms.
The review was sparked by parents' reaction
to a pep rally for a North Vancouver
playground that was built by Home Depot last
fall, she said.
Parents said their children were told to
sing a Home Depot cheer and wore Home Depot
shirts only a few days before the company
opened a new store in North Vancouver.
"When my 10-year-old daughter came home,
she was singing, 'Who are we! Home Depot!
What do we do? Build playgrounds!' " Steven
Mr. Coffin, who is a teacher at Franklin
Elementary School in East Vancouver, lobbied
for change in his district, and said he was
pleased to hear of the decision.
Other school districts in the Lower
Mainland, including Coquitlam, say corporate
partnerships are an important part of their
schools, Coquitlam School Board chair
Melissa Hyndes said.
The six-year-old Coquitlam policy tries to
give schools the freedom to do business
while requiring any advertising to be
education-related, she said.
"Programs cost money, extras cost money.
Each school negotiates its contracts on its
own, so [if we adopted a policy similar to
Vancouver's] individual schools would lose
out," she said.
And Nick Cowling, a spokesman for Home Depot
Canada, said his company donated $80,000 of
the $90,000 cost of the playground in North
He said the split between marketing and
altruism is "half and half."
If parents hear about the playground through
word of mouth or in newspapers, that's
great, he said.
"But we don't want to look like we're
marketing to kids because that's not our
Ms. Montani couldn't say how much the policy
would cost schools cut out of advertising
"There's anxiety as we bring this policy in
that will cut off opportunities for them,
but I don't think it's a huge amount that
we're losing," she said.
"If [a company's] motivation is really
marketing, we don't want them in here."
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