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California Teacher Sells Advertising Space On Tests


Calculus teacher Tom Farber is using the free market to help make up for the school district’s budget cuts – by putting paid advertising on his exams. The school district reduced Farber’s budget to $316, far less than the $500 he says he needs to prepare his students for Advanced Placement exams.

Farber’s pricing: ads on a semester final cost $30; chapter tests and quizes are only $20 and $10 respectively. So far the ads have raised $350, although most of the advertising so far has come from parents who put in good luck and other inspirational messages to the kids. Only about 1/3rd of the space has been sold to local businesses. One particularly clever ad was a local dentist’s “Brace Yourself for a Great Semester!”

But interesting question here is, why is Tom Farber forced to do this to get the money he needs? Public schools are, on average, twice as expensive as private schools, and yet, public schools are having funding shortages, what’s going on?

The answer is simple, public schools operate outside of the free market. So the natural pressures of the market that push businesses to increase quality while decreasing price aren’t there. If a school lacks quality, often times it gets increased funding, so the pool of funds gets sucked away by the inefficient parts. CSInvestor has a post about a similar issue.