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.”