Richard's Ramblings

Solving school finance (sort of)

By Richard Zowie

Times Guardian

The school finance issue is becoming a heated debate here in Texas, along with who serves the best salsa and which is the best football team, the Dallas Cowboys or the Dallas Cowboys.

It would be nice to end the Robin Hood program, that garnishes money from property-rich school districts and redistributes it to property-poor ones. I'm afraid, though, that I can't support a measure abolishing it from the law until we can come across a pragmatic, fair plan that doesn't put the state in debt.

After doing a lot of thinking, I've come up with a few solutions for the school finance problem. They might seem outrageous, but they just might work:

First, allow the schools to market themselves. Take for example my alma mater, A.C. Jones High School (a property-poor school) in Beeville, Texas. The Trojans are actually in luck. Their school colors are orange and white: though I detest orange, there's speculation that orange might become the next hot color in sports (the NBA expansion team Charlotte Bobcats, for example, will reportedly feature orange as a primary color. Both the Miami Dolphins and Denver Broncos feature alternate orange jerseys). A.C. Jones should open an online store and sell Trojan jerseys. It and other schools should also set about to aggressively market themselves throughout their areas. Everywhere in Bee County, for example, you should be able to see Trojan shirts, hats, pencils, pens, coffee cups, toilet paper, watches, beach balls, breakfast cereals, you name it.

For Beeville ISD and other school districts whose primary color is orange, I would also suggest that they consider renting out or selling surplus jerseys to road crews and local jails.

Second, allow advertising on the sports uniforms. On a given NASCAR uniform you'll see advertisements for things like STP or Valvoline. You might even see a car with a Jack-in-the-Box ball on the antenna (that probably kills the aerodynamics, but if they're paying for it, why not?). Why not let these schools use sports uniforms to sell advertising space? Soon we might see helmets plastered with logos from H.E.B., Whataburger, Blue Bell ice cream or Kikkoman's Low Sodium Soy Sauce. The schools could then leave just enough space for the player's jersey number.

Third, allow the schools to sell the naming rights on their stadiums. Before long, a football team could play in Wal-Mart Stadium while the basketball teams play in the H.E.B. Arena. The baseball teams could play in Gatorade Park. Schools could also sell off advertising space on the goalposts, basketball rims, back boards, outfield fences, bases and even the pitcher's mound.

Fourth (and this is sure to generate lots of income), allow endless live commercial endorsements during the game. Here are a few sample broadcasts:

"We're now in the bottom of the A.C. Delco fifth inning with the score-brought to you by Kinko's-Beeville Trojans 5, Southside Cardinals 3. Up next for the Trojans is Johnny Smith. He digs into the Whataburger batter's box.

"The first pitch is fouled off and-ouch! It caroms off the Cardinal catcher's red facemask! That had to hurt! By the way, the metal from that facemask came from U.S. Steel and the red paint was provided by Sherwin-Williams. The catcher pauses to wipe sweat dripping from his arm, and when he gets to the B.J.S. Construction dugout, he'll likely wipe down his face using a Martha Stewart Living towel, the fluffy ones that-

-CRACK!

"Smith sends a line drive off the Miracle Grow pitcher's mound! The ball, made by Rawlings, caroms toward the Tasty Freeze bleachers! Smith rounds Briggs and Stratton first base and heads for GEICO insurance second base! He's going to try for a Sugar Twin double! The relay throw...NOT IN TIME! That safe slide brought to you by Bank of America, where you can have secure on-line banking and-WAIT! Smith slid off the bag and has been tagged out! And that out has been brought to you by Outback Steakhouse."

As for football:

"We're in the fourth quarter and the Beeville Trojans are tied with the Southside Cardinals 7-7. Beeville has the Bank One first down on their own 40-yard line. Johnny Smith takes the Diamond Shamrock snap and drops back to pass. Tonight's passes are brought to you by Depends Undergarments, get more-Smith has Garcia WIDE OPEN in the AutoZone end zone! Garcia catches the Wilson ball for a Papermate Dynagrip touchdown! Let's go to James, our Crayola Crayons color commentator and ask how that play developed!"

"Bob, Garcia simply lined up in the KFC slot and the outside linebacker-brought to you by Bluebonnet Ford-was no match for him. He then sprinted into the end zone for the score! That takes the Trojan score up to 13, and speaking of 13, the film 13 Ghosts is now available for purchase for only $14.99 at your nearby Blockbuster Video!"

Selling out? Think of it as investing in your child's education.

(Mention of any commercial products or businesses does not imply endorsement)

Richard Zowie is a reporter and columnist for the Times Guardian. He fully expects the above ideas to earn him the Nobel Prize for Finance. Send comments to news@timesguardian.com.

     
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