The McDonalds Happy Meal Report Card

[Seminole County, Florida, is a hotbed of opposition to teaching evolution]

AD AGE – “This is a good day for parents and children in Seminole County and anyone who believes that corporations should not prey on children in schools,” said Dr. Susan Linn, director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. “We are pleased that McDonald’s is listening to parents all over the country who believe that report cards should not be commercialized.”

The fast-food giant had agreed to sponsor the report-card jackets for the county’s elementary schools to cover a printing fee of $1,600. There are 27,000 children in the school district.

On the jackets, McDonald’s offered a free happy meal to any student with all A’s and B’s, two or fewer absences, or good behavior in a given academic quarter. Susan Pagan, an area parent, notified the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, and an all-out public-relations battle ensued by early December. According to the campaign, the school district received more than 2,000 calls of protest. . .

“It was McDonald’s decision to remove our trademarks from report-card jackets in Seminole County, Fla., because we believe the focus should be on the importance of a good education,” said Bill Whitman, a spokesman for McDonald’s USA. “McDonald’s, not the school district, will cover the cost to reprint the report-card jackets.”

CONSUMERIST – The school district that approved McDonald’s-sponsored report cards has a hot new partnership with Bus Radio, a friendly company that advertises to kids as they ride to school. The company serves a sonorous mix of inoffensive music, public service announcements (buckle up, kids!) and a few harmless advertisements (maybe McDonald’s?) to over 1 million children in 23 states. Bus Radio is based in Needham, Massachusetts, but lost its contract with the Needham school district after uppity parents objected to the crass commercialization of something as innocent as a bus ride. Seminole School Board members said the benefits of the radio show seem to outweigh any drawbacks, but they will evaluate Bus Radio’s performance during the test run.