Parents Complain Over Obama Merch Being Sold in Schools

Folder from the vending machine, courtesy Columbia Tribune.

A company which outfits school supply machines is in trouble after parents complained about Obama campaign merchandise being sold in Missouri schools. From the Columbia Tribune:

Pencils and notebooks resembling President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign ads have been sold in at least one Columbia school and other public schools, causing the company that distributes the materials to travel around the state yanking the supplies out of machines.

“Don’t be mad at us,” said Greg Jones, a sales representative with Pencil Wholesale. “It was a total accident.”

Pencil Wholesale distributes supplies to six Columbia schools: Parkade Elementary, Cedar Ridge Elementary, Paxton Keeley Elementary, Mill Creek Elementary, Smithton Middle School and Hickman High School, said Linda Quinley, the district’s chief financial officer.

At Mill Creek, at least one pencil and a notebook with designs similar to Obama campaign advertisements have been sold out of a supply machine. Two families have complained about the politically tinged materials.

Three Missouri schools have contacted Jones since the beginning of the school year asking that the materials be removed, and Mill Creek Principal Mary Sue Gibson this week said she also planned to call Pencil Wholesale.

“I just don’t want to get into that political arena at all,” she said.

The bound three-ring notebook bears a photo of literal change — pennies, quarters, dimes and nickels stacked into piles. Above the photo, white text reads “CHANGE” over a navy background.

Below the photo, “WE CAN BELIEVE IN” sits above a logo similar to Obama’s campaign image — three red stripes separated by white stripes in front of a white circle with a blue background arching over the circle.

The supplies were designed by the art department of Harcourt Pencil Co., based in Milroy, Ind., Jones said.

“The art department was trying to be cutesy,” he said.

I’m sure some would make the argument that he’s the president of the United States, so what if some notebooks or pencils bearing his name are sold in schools? That’s well and good, except the merchandise doesn’t bear the presidential seal. It doesn’t bear the American Flag; nothing is mentioned about our country or the office of the presidency. It was campaign material with Obama’s logo and slogan.

Folder, courtesy Columbia Tribune.

Big difference. Politicizing neutral educational grounds (as neutral as the base of the Democrat-supporting NEA can be) should be something that politicians rise above. Funny takeaway – the owners of Harcourt, the company which distributed the merchandise, are said to be Republicans. Know what your company is doing! – though I appreciate the refunds they are offering and their removal of the items from schools.

On second thought: the photo accompanying the slogan is almost … insulting? As in: this may be all you have left as a result of “hope and change?”

(hat tip: Jeremiah D.)