When his suburban San Diego high school cut his photocopy budget to $316, calculus teacher Tom Farber had a problem. Because he gives a lot of tests—to make sure his students have enough practice for their AP exam, he says—he racks up $500 a year in 3-cents-per-page copy costs. So he got resourceful. Farber began selling ad space on his test papers, at $10 to $30 a pop. “Tough times call for tough actions,” he says.
The plan pulled in $350, though not everyone’s thrilled with the arrangement. “The advertisers are paying for something, and it’s access to kids,” says the director of a nonprofit that fights commercialization of schools. But the principal thinks the ads are reasonable. Roughly two-thirds are inspirational messages from parents, while the rest come from local businesses. “It’s not like, ‘This test brought to you by McDonalds or Nike.’”