The Council’s ‘economic education’ campaign was supplemented by the efforts of many individual corporations, trade associations and chambers of commerce. Some companies offered their own employees economic ‘education’. For example the Clorox Company provided an economics course for its employees which counted towards a college degree. And Abbott Laboratories used internal publications to ‘educate’ its employees as well as distributing the Ad Council booklet to employees.
Teacher education was also targeted by individual corporations because of the influence of teachers on millions of children. For example, American Cyanamid began an economic education program for teachers in 1973 and by 1978 600 teachers in four states had attended its 15 week course of seminars, earning in-service credit for doing so. Its manager of educational relations, William Elliott, noted that teachers started off as an ‘adversary audience’ but finished the course as ‘pro-business’.
The Continental Group, a manufacturer and distributor of metal, paper, and plastic packaging products, started its programme for teachers in 1974 and entitled it ‘The Role of Business in a Free Society’. It was offered as a graduate course for teachers at colleges and universities in 30 states. It counted towards their masters or doctorates in education. The course featured lectures from leading businessmen from a variety of companies such as IBM, Standard Oil, W. R. Grace, Allied Chemical and Philip Morris, and seminars once a week for a session. Similar courses were offered to other ‘opinion leaders’ including journalists, clergy and MBA students. Continental also encouraged other firms to offer economic education courses; prepared a 200 page book on how to run such a program. It established the Continental Institute to expand free-enterprise economic education.
Dow followed Continental’s lead in establishing a teacher education course. In addition it produced a film extolling the superiority of capitalism; established a library of films and materials for teachers; organized business education exchange days; and set up a program for college students to learn about free enterprise principles. Another company, Ryerson Inc., gave teachers summer employment so that they could learn how a business operates.
Corporate sponsored classroom materials were also produced for the purpose of selling the free enterprise system to school children. Four million packages of Industry and the American Economy (an 11 booklet package), were distributed to students and teachers all over the nation. Economic Ecology, an organization promoting free enterprise, produced a game ‘You Can Do it Baseball’ based on questions from a booklet ‘You Can Do It! The Story of What Makes America Tick.’ Corporate money also financed a television show on economics featuring a leading free market economist, Milton Friedman and another ‘In Search of the Real America’ featuring a Fellow from the conservative think tank, the American Enterprise Institute.
Sears Roebuck produced classroom materials for elementary and secondary school children, including textbooks, teachers guides, audiovisual materials and classroom activities on economic and consumer education. Its booklet ‘Our Economic System - Essays and Teachers’ Guides’ included essays sponsored by the Business Roundtable. Eli Lilly and Company joined with the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce to offer ‘Opportunities to Learn About Business’ to high school students. It involved nine full teaching days of lectures, reading, discussion; a simulated business game where students formed businesses and competed in the market; and contact with prominent business people. The game was also sponsored by General Motors and other businesses.
Various oil companies got involved. Phillips Petroleum Company supported the production of a series of five films entitled ‘American enterprise’ narrated by William Shatner (the actor who played Captain Kirk on the popular television series Star Trek) with an accompanying teachers guide. It cost $800,000 and reached over 8 million students. Amoco Oil Company also produced a 26 minute film and teachers guide to explain how the free enterprise system works. The Exxon Company got together with Walt Disney Educational Media Company to produce a 22 minute film for high school students about two children that go into business.