Recently, there have been efforts by private technology companies to work with the public sector to invest in educational programs.
As the public and private sectors begin to collaborate to invest in and develop educational opportunities for today’s youth, we must work together to prepare technology driven lessons, ensure that classrooms are equipped with enough up-to-the-minute hardware for all students, and most importantly, work to create safe, ad-free spaces online where our children can learn to independently research without being bombarded by advertising or inappropriate material.
Schools are safe havens where children should be able to learn and grow in a supportive atmosphere. At home, parents have the ability to monitor their children’s intake of consumer products by limiting television and internet usage, and helping them engage critically with the content they see. But if we allow advertising in any form in our schools, we run directly counter to the message educational institutions are trying to promote: that these are places of learning, not selling.
Advertising in schools is simply not conducive to a learning-focused environment and we must agree as a society that there are places where advertisements absolutely don’t belong. Earlier this week, Microsoft publicly expanded its free Bing in the Classroom search to all public and private schools in the United States, along with lesson plans and the ability for community members to help schools earn tablets.
With Bing in the Classroom, Bing.com will eliminate all advertisements from search results, and augment adult filters and privacy protections in participating schools, at no cost to school districts.
Watch this brief clip of Bing in the Classroom.
I applaud the architects of the Bing in the Classroom program, particularly their groundbreaking decision to remove digital advertisements from the school environment. As educational institutions struggle with budgetary shortfalls, it is far too easy for policymakers and school boards to be tempted to allow advertising displays as an additional source of revenue.
In the same way that New York State school districts do not currently partake in physical advertising in school buildings, I strongly believe that we should not be condoning digital advertising in an academic environment. We have a responsibility as parents, educators, and policy makers to continue to protect our youth in the school environment.
With the introduction of the new Common Core curriculum standards, educational benchmarks are increasing to meet the needs of a new economy. To meet these new expectations, we must ensure that our children are allowed to mature and discover new information in an environment free of advertisements, digital and physical, both now and in the future.