Remember, dear Babble reader, our discussion of a couple weeks back regarding wasted school days? I’d like to nominate another candidate: the Magazine Salesman Fundraiser Assembly (MSFA).
My first brush with this one happened yesterday, and it will take many, many mental showers before I feel anywhere close to ethically clean again.
Here’s how it went down: in a shortened academic day, students spend 40 minutes at a assembly listening to a super-fast talking guy from the Hearst Corporation who flies through a crash-course in selling magazine subscriptions. Central to the spiel are two things
- If every student can sell just three magazine subscriptions the school will be able to buy an electronic marquee instead of the old plastic-letter model we currently have;
- Students who sell a certain number of magazine subscriptions will be eligible for fabulous prizes, such as a dinky little radio besparkled with shiny multi-colored lights, and a mp3 player (again, besparkled with shiny, multi-colored lights). Brightly-colored objects are evidently a central marketing focus of the Hearst Corporation, magazine-shilling division. Yellow-journalist de luxe William Randolph Hearst would be oh so proud.
And what of the electronic marquee itself? Well, it’s quite obvious that without this $17,000 informational gadget, my school will:
- Doubtlessly miss AYP forever
- suffer the irreversible loss of a student body increasingly unable to handle a school that doesn’t have announcements such as “Band Concert Friday; No School 9/2” in blazing LCD letters visible from three miles away.
So, while we’re shortening academic classes for the day, our nascent teenage students are being pummeled Ronco Informercial style into shilling overpriced magazines via the appeal of cheap electronics and a pointless, Keeping Up With the School Joneses, electronic gadget that costs $17,000.
In a 14-year plus career of watching time-wasting, ethically-challenged assemblies, I can’t think of one that quite matched the depressive power of the Magazine Salesman Fundraising Assembly. True, any assembly termed a “pep rally” comes close, but for sheer misguided capitalism and pointlessness, the magazine salesman fundraising assembly is without peer.
I have to go take another one of those mental showers now.