Jonathon Braden, Columbia Daily Tribune (Missouri), December 3, 2009
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.
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 [Greg Jones, a sales representative with Pencil Wholesale] 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.
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.
Jones delivers the supplies to about 800 schools. He remembers seeing the Obama-esque notebook when it was first designed, but “I didn’t think one thing about it,” he said.