Legal Threats Work

October 1, 2006

Take the bus, and leave the radio to us.

Our View

Although the educational benefits are difficult for most to discern, the Tau ton School District will try BusRadio for what shapes up as a couple of years

Under another threat of being sued, the School Committee signed a two-year contract to have all buses equipped with the service.

The company, BusRadio, a satellite radio provider, will select music and programs deemed appropriate for school children.

Age-appropriate music and programs will be heard.

There could be as much as eight minutes of commercials each hour, delivered to what amounts to a captive audience of children as young as age 6.

The products being advertised are targeted at young people.

They include films, TV, sneakers, cell phones, and bottled water.

The manufacturers are out to sell. The best customers today are kids.

Parental control over the programming and commercials is non-existent. Each day, the hearts and minds of school children will be influenced by what a private company has determined will be good for them.

During the board’s discussion, it was mentioned that the music and programs would have a soothing effect on the perennial school-bus rowdies and make for safer trips.

No evidence to support the claim was offered.

How did the School Committee get roped into this one?

When the proposal first came up last summer, Assistant Superintendent Leo Melanson asked for input from parents on how they felt about the idea.

He didn’t get much of a response and was instructed to investigate further.

Later, when the proposal appeared again before the school board, board members indicated the city would sign up for three years. BusRadio said it took that for a yes and began purchasing the equipment.

Some board members, however, had a change of heart and considered to let BusRadio hit the road. It was then that Steve Shulman, president of BusRadio, talked of a possible legal suit against the city, noting his company had already invested more than $80,000 in the expectation that a contract would be signed.

This led to a hasty decision by the committee to sign a two-year probationary contract. The committee sees the contract as providing an escape if it doesn’t like the service.

A day after this decision, 40 organizations and 64 children advocates issued warnings to all Massachusetts school superintendents to reject BusRadio.

It was just a little late for the Taunton School Committee.


©The Taunton Gazette 2006