May 2009

Urge President Obama to Help Families Protect Children from Commercialism; Teachers to Scholastic: Don't Use Us to Market Toys, Make-up and Brands toChildren in School; Consuming Kids Opens to Rave Reviews; Recommended Reading: Six, Going on Sixteen: Fighting 'age compression' and the commercialization of childhood; Upcoming Events
MEDIA MADNESS: The Impact of Sex, Violence & Commercial Culture on Children and Society; Crisis in the Kindergarten: A New Report on the Disappearance of Play; CCFC's End-of-the-Fiscal-Year Campaign

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Urge President Obama to Help Families Protect Children from Commercialism

Join more than 2,000 CCFC members in urging President Obama to initiate a systematic review of the

regulations on marketing to children to determine whether they offer adequate protection for twenty-first century families.  You can also add your own comments which we’ll deliver along with the letter to the White House for Father’s Day.

A mom from Nebraska writes:  “Although it may be daunting to turn back the clock on the explosion of marketing mechanisms aimed at children, I believe it is imperative that we find the courage to assist families by protecting children from insidious manipulation. The cries of "free choice" and "parental responsibility" will be loud--and well financed--but we must take a stand.”

We couldn’t have said it better.  If you haven’t yet signed the letter, please visit http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/621/t/6725/petition.jsp?petition_KEY=1935.

Teachers to Scholastic: Don't Use Us to Market Toys, Make-up and Brands toChildren in School

“Stop enlisting teachers to sell toys, make-up, and brands to students through book clubs.” That’s what more than 1,200 teachers from 47 states said in a letter the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood sent to Scholastic, Inc., the world’s largest educational publishing company.  Many teachers also chose to include their personal concerns.  “I am sometimes embarrassed to send home a particular issue with too many trashy choices,” wrote Amie Buchman, a K-1st grade teacher in Brookline, MA.  “I feel this reflects on me as a teacher.”

Laurie Kleen, a kindergarten teacher from St. Louis, MO wrote: "...[I]n recent years, I am finding many fewer books that I want to own or read to the children...and all sorts of things that aren’t books at all.  So I have made very few purchases in the past ten years and feel much less enthusiastic about giving [out] the order forms..."

Teachers are urging Scholastic to stop exploiting their influence in the classroom to sell toys, like the M&M Kart Racing videogame, and market media properties, like Hannah Montana, to children in schools.  The letter is another step in CCFC’s ongoing Shape Up, Scholastic campaign which began last February, when over 5,000 parents sent letters to Scholastic, Inc. telling them to put the book back in Book Clubs.  CCFC’s review of a year’s worth of elementary school Book Clubs, found that over one-third of the items sold were either non-books, or books sold with products like lip gloss, key chains or jewelry. 

After receiving 5,000 complaints from CCFC members, Scholastic claimed that teachers approve of the items in their book clubs. Now that more than 1,200 teachers have voiced their concerns, we hope that Scholastic will take notice. 

To read or sign CCFC’s letter to Scholastic please visit http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/621/petition.jsp?petition_KEY=1852.

To read comments from teachers who signed the letter to Scholastic, please visit
http://commercialfreechildhood.org//pressreleases/scholasticteachers.html.

To learn more about CCFC’s Shape Up, Scholastic campaign, please visit
http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/actions/scholastic.html.

Consuming Kids Opens to Rave Reviews

The first screenings of the acclaimed film Consuming Kids have spurred great discussions and plans for local activism.  Parents, teachers, concerned citizens and policymakers are learning more about how marketing undermines children’s wellbeing and joining the growing movement to reclaim childhood from corporate marketers.  Many screening attendees plan to spread the word by hosting their own screenings for family, friends and colleagues. To find a screening near you, please visit: http://consumingkids.bravenewtheaters.com/screenings

And be sure to visit http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/events/consumingkids.html to learn how you can host your screening and get a copy of the film for the special CCFC discount price of $24.95.

Recommended Reading
Six, Going on Sixteen: Fighting 'age compression' and the commercialization of childhood

In this poignant article in Rethinking Schools, CCFC member Geralyn Bywater McLaughlin describes her experience as a K-1 teacher struggling to cope with the impact of commercial culture on her classroom community.  Overwhelmed at first by her five- and six-year-old students obsession with sexualized media,  Geralyn sought out resources – including an two-day course on Media Madness taught by CCFC’s Diane Levin – “to get a better handle on what felt to me like a crisis in the early childhood realm.”  Her description of her efforts to “bring back childhood” into her classroom is both moving and inspiring.  Go to http://www.rethinkingschools.org/archive/23_03/six233.shtml to read this powerful piece.  And speaking of the Media Madness summer institute . . .

Upcoming Events
MEDIA MADNESS: The Impact of Sex, Violence & Commercial Culture on Children and Society

A Summer Institute for Educators, Students, Human Service Professionals, Activists & Parents
July 9 & 10. 2009, Wheelock College, Boston, MA

For the 15th year, Diane Levin, CCFC co-founder and author of So Sexy So Soon will teach the popular summer institute on the role that media, technology and commercial culture play in shaping our children, families, schools and culture.  In addition to looking at the child development, sociological, educational and political aspects of the current landscape, participants will learn about what we can do to counteract the harm being caused as well as how to advocate for change.  Click here for more info. 

Crisis in the Kindergarten: A New Report on the Disappearance of Play

At CCFC, promoting play is one of our passions.  That’s why we were so concerned to read this new report from CCFC member organization the Alliance for Childhood.  Here’s what they found:  “New research shows that many kindergartens spend 2 to 3 hours per day instructing and testing children in literacy and math—with only 30 minutes per day or less for play. In some kindergartens, there is no playtime at all. The same didactic, test-driven approach is entering preschools. But these methods, which are not well grounded in research, are not yielding long-term gains. Meanwhile, behavioral problems and preschool expulsion, especially for boys, are soaring.”  To learn more, please visit http://www.allianceforchildhood.org/

CCFC's End-of-the-Fiscal-Year Campaign

We asked for your help and you’re answering the call.  In just two days, we’re already more than one-third of the way to our goal of raising $15,000 by the end of the fiscal year.   Thanks so much to those of you who have already contributed!   

To help CCFC continue its work, please take a moment to go to: http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/donate/ to support the only national organization whose sole mission is to stop the commercialization of childhood.  Remember – we don’t accept corporate funding, so we rely on you!

Support CCFC.  We rely on our members because we will not compromise our commitment to children by accepting corporate funding. To make a tax-free contribution, please visit http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/donate.