Advertising in schools: prime example of lobbying

Black-Green in Hesse passes a law to restrict advertising in schools. Critics call the law a "pipe bursting failure".

Minister of Education R. Alexander Lorz (CDU) bows to pressure from lobbyists Photo: dpa

The black-green-ruled state of Hesse passed a law on Tuesday that restricts advertising in schools. But activists and teachers’ associations react in horror. For the spokesman of the education union GEW, Rene Scheppler, the now passed law is even a prime example of lobbying: "I’ve never seen a clearer case."

Actually, the GEW had high hopes for the draft law of the black-green government. The original draft stated that in the case of sponsorship, "influence and the appearance of influence on schools and teaching" should be ruled out.

The version that has now been passed states that the "advertising effect" of sponsoring should remain merely "limited and manageable. Advertising activities by companies at schools will therefore remain permitted in principle – as long as the benefit to the schools is greater than the harm, according to the justification in the law.

While the FDP, which is also in opposition, raised its hand in favor of the law, the Left Party and SPD voted against it. Christoph Degen, education policy spokesman for the SPD parliamentary group, criticized not only the content but also the haste with which it was passed. Just one week passed between the presentation of the amended version and the final reading. This procedure is "hard to beat in audacity".

"Role backwards"

Also Felix Kamella of the association LobbyControl is disappointed over the "role backwards". His association therefore protested against the changes on Tuesday by handing over 20,000 signatures.

The CDU and the Greens, on the other hand, praise their school law, which, among other things, lifts the ban on advertising from the level of ordinances to the level of law. "Advertising has no place in schools," emphasizes Mathias Wagner, education policy spokesman for the Greens. Sponsorship, on the other hand, would still be desirable. Vocational schools in particular have demanded it.

Stefan Lower, spokesman for the Ministry of Education, sees the changes as a "linguistic clarification". He emphasizes: "With any kind of sponsoring, certain advertising is immanent. Anyone who says otherwise is lying in their pocket." He says that it is always the individual case that counts – and that school principals should continue to examine this in the future. This is precisely what GEW spokesman Scheppler criticizes: "This opens doors that weren’t there before."