Former Secretaries of Education are not exactly white-hot properties in the product- endorsement arena, and you are not likely to see Terrel H. Bell behind the wheel of a Chevrolet in a television commercial any time soon.
But Mr. Bell has made some connections with education-related businesses, and he has lent his likeness to Sylvan Learning Centers for advertisements that he says will run in several professional publications.
An ad that appeared in the October issue of Instructor magazine, for example, included a photo of Mr. Bell in front of a bookcase, looking appropriately pedagogical. "Former U.S. Secretary of Education Ted Bell on Sylvan Learning Centers," the headline reads.
The sales pitch attributed to Mr. Bell with quotation marks is aimed at teachers.
"Right now, you've probably got more than a few students in your classes who, for one reason or another, have failed to grasp basic learning concepts taught earlier," the ad says.
"These children will need extra attention if they're to learn, pull up their grades, and move on. But you've got dozens of students, a heavy schedule, and very little time to spare.
"The solution? You might recommend the kind of help found at Sylvan Learning Centers."
Mr. Bell said he became involved with the company because its founder pestered him with letters and phone calls and finally persuaded him to visit a center. He said he was impressed with Sylvan's methods, which are based on concentrated personal attention for each child. Mr. Bell signed on last year as chairman of the company's academic advisory committee, which reviews new programs.
"They give me a small fee," Mr. Bell said. "It's not a big item, but it's nice."
Mr. Bell noted that he also serves on the executive boards of the Educational Testing Service, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, and several other companies. The firms he is involved with include Ideal School Supply; Systems Computer Technology Corporation, which supplies computer services to colleges and universities; Automated Language Processing Systems, which makes translating equipment; and Management and Training Corporation, which runs Job Corps training centers.
"I've learned something about the private sector since I left Washington," Mr. Bell said. "It's been an interesting experience."--jm