CSPI slams report from Coke-funded ‘front group’

WASHINGTON—Corporate-school partnerships bolster corporate profits at the expense of kids’ health and education, according to the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), which today blasted a Coca-Cola-funded report encouraging such partnerships. The report was issued by a group called the Council for Corporate-School Partnerships, which was founded by Coca-Cola.

“Imagine our surprise that this front group found that these partnerships ‘add value’ to schools,” CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson said. “But given the Coca-Cola company’s horrible track record in schools, it’s the last company one should look to for ‘guiding principles’ in this area. Coke ‘partners’ with schools in the same way that foxes ‘partner’ with hen houses.”

According to CSPI, examples of improper corporate-school partnerships include:

  • Channel One: A way for advertisers to displace 12 minutes a day of education with innocuous programming and two minutes of required-to-watch advertising. “That's not our idea of a partnership that benefits kids,” Jacobson said.
  • Soft-drink marketing: High schools have become marketing arms of soft-drink companies. “With or without exclusive contracts, soft drink companies are peddling junk food to kids,” Jacobson said. “The schools love the money, but essentially the deal is that schools are taxing kids to pay for the things that the soft-drink profits buy.”
  • Advertising: Hallways, book covers, buses are increasingly being used as advertising vehicles to sell stuff to kids. “Schools should be non-commercial,” Jacobson said. “Give kids a break!”

The report claims that business-school partnerships should “compliment [sic] the social values and goals of the school, business partner, and the community.” But the report comes as communities are increasingly trying to remove junk foods from schools. Recently, the Los Angeles Unified School District banned sales of soda pop on school grounds.

“Parents should be outraged and should throw the corporate teachers out of the classroom,” Jacobson said. “We don't need ExxonMobil teaching kids about pollution and global warming, and we certainly don’t need Coca-Cola teaching kids nutrition.