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July 9, 2006

Is Selling High School Naming Rights a Good Idea?

Would you send your child to Skyy High (after Skyy Vodka)? What about Starbucks Academy? Or maybe the Victoria’s Secret School for Girls?

It could happen in your town. American high schools, desperate for funding, are selling off naming rights for their gymnasiums, cafeterias, classrooms and even the entire school.

Now, it’s not uncommon for universities to name buildings after the primary donors who paid for their construction. And an increasing number of sports stadiums have corporate labels attached. (This can be awkward in an age of perpetual mergers and takeovers — witness Pacific Bell — no, SBC — no, AT&T Park in San Francisco.)

Apart from the fact that public high schools are supposed to represent their entire communities, any high school considering going down this particular fundraising path risks the embarrassment of inappropriate monikers.

Consider the following high school naming rights:

  • Virgin High
  • The La-Z-Boy Gymnasium
  • Hefty Cafeteria
  • The Slim-Fast Cafeteria
  • Jelly Belly Gymnasium
  • Slumberland Study Hall
  • TGIF High

By the way, I do not think selling high school naming rights is a good idea. I could see MySpace lockers.

But I’d rather see the high schools in the U. S. replace 20% of teachers who cannot teach and cut waste. No, I won’t hold my breath waiting for this to happen.

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Posted by William Lozito at July 9, 2006 5:31 PM
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I've never heard of this proposition before (selling high school naming rights). I am not in favor of it either, but it's not because I think it's a bad idea. I just think it would be a nightmare trying to manage such a program, particularly when it comes to public schools. Who would decide where to draw the line as far as companies eligible for naming rights? Skyy Vodka is a no-brainer, but how about a controversial company like Abercrombie? The corporate sponsorship thing would just open up a big, fat can of worms.

I wonder if your posting points out the lack of a unifying mythos for our society. Without any idealism and/or heroes we are left to commercialize our public schools.

Always challenged by your postings to think some more - thanks for highlighting the conversation!

That's a good point, but there are many schools named after presidents, civil rights leaders, war heroes, etc. I don't think the issue is that we lack heroes; it's just that money speaks more loudly than idealism.

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