Commercial Free Schools Act – San Francisco, CA

In June 1999, San Francisco became the largest school district yet to approve policies on commercialism in schools.

TheAct requires all long-term corporate sponsorships to be approved by the Board of Education. It also prohibits teachers from using corporate sponsored educational materials, including Channel One and ZapMe.

The Act also forbids San Francisco from entering into a district-wide exclusive contract with a soda or snack food company.

“This policy is among the strongest protective measures we’ve seen taken by any district in the country,” says Andrew Hegelshaw, Executive Director of the Center for Commercial-Free Public Education. However, according to the Center, the law could be stronger. One weakness is that while the law prohibits district-wide snack food contracts, it does not prohibit such contracts for all high schools, for instance. In addition, the law has few enforcement mechanisms. For instance, it prohibits the use of sponsored educational materials but does not specify any punitive measures if a teacher does use such materials.

More information:

Amendment to Resolution No. 95-25A6 (Version No. 3)


(Prohibiting Exclusive Vendor Contracts, Brand Names, and Tobacco Subsidiary Food Products)

* Commissioners Jill Wynns and Eddie Y. Chin

WHEREAS:”The mission of the San Francisco Unified School District is to provide each student with equal opportunity to succeed by promoting intellectual growth, creativity, self discipline, cultural and linguistic sensitivity, democratic responsibility, economic competence and physical and mental health so that each student can achieve to his or her maximum ability.”; and

WHEREAS: One of the fundamental goals of education is to prepare students to make informed and thoughtful decisions about their own health and futures; and

WHEREAS: Students are subject to intense exposure to commercial messages from multiple media sources; and

WHEREAS:School must be a neutral environment where students and staff can engage in open debate about many subjects, including the appropriate role of commercial companies in public agencies; and

WHEREAS:Recent disturbing developments in public education include commercial news in public school classrooms, identifiable brand names in curriculum materials and exclusive vendor contracts with public schools and school districts; and

WHEREAS: Tobacco advertising campaigns target youth, communities of color and low-income communities, which include the majority of SFUSD students, contributing to higher rates of death and illness, such as long cancer, asthma and stroke; and

WHEREAS: It is contradictory of the SFUSD to support the business of tobacco companies and to uphold the mission of protecting the health and well-being of students; and

WHEREAS:Over the past 20 years tobacco companies have diversified their holdings to include food products. The two largest tobacco companies in the world made $35.7 billion in world-wide revenues from sales of their food subsidiary products in 1998, helping to fund their tobacco operations and tobacco advertising campaigns targeting youth; and

WHEREAS:School districts in California are chronically underfunded, increasing financial pressure on responsible administrators and policy-makers.

THEREFOREBE IT RESOLVED: That the Board of Education of the San Francisco Unified School District supports commercial-free and tobacco support-free educational settings; and

FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED: That the San Francisco Unified School District will enter no agreements with vendors to purchase exclusive district-wide access to student customers for soft drinks or snack foods purchased by students in school as such arrangements may imply that the school endorses those products; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: That schools will make every effort to make healthy snacks and healthy drinks available to students; and

FURTHERBE IT RESOLVED: That it will be the policy of the San Francisco Unified School District that the sale of tabacco subsidiary products in all San Francisco schools, including the cafeterias, beaneries, student and teacher-run stores and vending machines will be prohibited; and

BEIT FURTHER RESOLVED: That the San Francisco Unified School District will buy no curriculum materials that contain identifiable brand names in the content of the curriculum; and

FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED: That teachers in SFUSD will not use identifiable brand names in their instruction unless they are found to be necessary to the lesson being taught; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: That no SFUSD students will be required to wear the logo of any manufacturer for any school activity; and

FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED: That corporate sponsorship for on-going school activities such as athletic teams and clubs will be subject to approval by the Board of Education.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: That SFUSD students may not be used as agents for any district-wide vendors.