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McGrades

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Students in Seminole County, Fla., now have a new reason to work hard in school and get good grades: They can get a free Happy Meal out of it. Under a deal made by the county’s school board and local McDonald's restaurants, elementary students who get all A’s and B’s or have two or fewer absences can, in essence, redeem their report cards for McNuggets and fries (among other options) and a gender-specific toy. But that’s not all. As part of the deal, the students’ report cards now come in special jackets that include images of Ronald McDonald, the Golden Arches logo, and Happy Meal selections.

According to The New York Times, at least one parent—who, interestingly, happens to be an advertising executive—has complained about the program. “There’s a tasteful and professional way for large corporations to sponsor such programs,” said Susan Pagan. “This just seemed very inappropriate, very blatant and direct, into the hands of my daughter.” The director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood also blasted the initiative, suggesting it sends a perverse message by linking good grades with fast food.

Regina Klaers, the spokeswoman for the school district, said the program would be reevaluated before next school year. She also noted that the district had had a similar deal with Pizza Hut for 10 years and “did not receive any complaints.”

1 Comment

Why is it that every time I read a headline about something disastrous happening in education, it is always going on in Florida? What is the matter down there? Get your act together, sunshine…

How similar, exactly, was the deal with Pizza Hut? I know Pizza Hut awarded kids for reading books, but they did not send vital school documents home in folders with logos, did they? Is Ms. Klaers a spokesperson for the district or for McDonalds, because a defensive response such as that would indicate the latter? The Pizza Hut thing was a little funny, but it was no where near as over the top as this.

I fully support public education and I think it is completely out of line for a district to send home corporate propaganda to people that do not have the option to take their “business” elsewhere. I do not support McDonalds for a number of reasons (humanitarian, environmental), I would never take my children there, and I find it unacceptable to market to young children in this manner.

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