To the editor:
I would like to examine closely a practice that has been going on for many, many years and has remained overlooked and unchallenged. This is the practice of allowing representatives of a private company to pull students out of class and pitch to them an object that many cannot afford and that nobody needs.
The class ring, a token held dearly by a few, is in reality a financial burden for many parents. Still, schools corral these young teenagers into an auditorium and give Jostens (the “class ring company”) exactly what it wants: a captive and highly impressionable audience. I find it outrageous that this is done in the middle of the school day.
In today’s economy with many parents out of work and in a world in which the U.S. lags behind in education, I ask this: Exactly how appropriate is it for Jostens to pitch to our kids, all of whom are minors? Exactly how appropriate is it to pull them out of class? What message does this send, that buying things is more important than learning? Exactly how appropriate is it for these professional salespeople to prey on their vulnerabilities, knowing full well how driven by emotion and how needing of acceptance adolescents can be? These teens don’t have the experience to deal with people like this. Yet, this is a practice that schools actually support. It is nothing short of exploitative.