May 2016

Another Fantastic Screen-Free Week; Screen-Free Week: Making it Last; CCFC Brings #StopMcTeachersNights to McDonald’s Headquarters; An Important New Report on School Commercialism; Thomas the Tank Engine vs. Thomas the Franchise; Laurel Parker West & Julia Chen Join the CCFC Board!; McDonald’s Stops Presenting Infomercial in Schools; School Bus Action Center 2016; Recommended Reading

Newsletter HTML: 

In This Issue:

  • Another Fantastic Screen-Free Week
  • Screen-Free Week: Making it Last
  • CCFC Brings #StopMcTeachersNights to McDonald’s Headquarters
  • An Important New Report on School Commercialism 
  • Thomas the Tank Engine vs. Thomas the Franchise
  • Laurel Parker West & Julia Chen Join the CCFC Board!
  • McDonald’s Stops Presenting Infomercial in Schools
  • School Bus Action Center 2016
  • Recommended Reading

Another Fantastic Screen-Free Week

We’re still basking in the (non-LCD) glow from the great stories and feedback we got from Screen-Free Week participants! Here’s just a small sample:

“Our three year old daughter was having a really hard couple of months with tantrums. The worse it got, the more we were using Netflix as an escape. Then we decided something had to change. We put the computer away for a week, and then watched our daughter come back to us almost immediately. She thrived! She dove into deep play! We all connected more…Thanks for prompting this change! It has made us a happier family.” -Andrea, Stephen, & Eleanor

“Over the week, we noticed the following in our kids: better sleep, increased sister bonding, more imaginative play…We also talked about how different families make different choices, and why our family makes certain choices around screens and commercialism.” -Alison M., Andrew U., Katherine (9) and Sophie (7), Somerville, MA

Once again, organizers around the country stepped up and planned amazing screen-free events and activities. There was Photography Day at the LeDuc Historic Estate in Hastings, MN, a Family Fitness Fair put on by the Department of Health in Charlotte County, FL, sensory play time and other activities at the Brighton District Library in Michigan, a Cinco de Mayo celebration at Maplewood Elementary School in Austin, TX, and a daytime campfire and a cave hike at Lake Roland Park in Baltimore County, MD. The principal at Campbell Elementary School in Metuchen, NJ, challenged his students to go screen-free for the week with the promise to dye his hair an outrageous color of the students’ choosing—and after the week, he went pink! 

For more reactions and lessons learned from Screen-Free Week, visit our blog

And save the date for next year’s SFW: May 1-7, 2017!

Screen-Free Week: Making it Last

Did Screen-Free Week inspire you to make lasting changes for you and your family? Check out these resources to get you started:

Additional resources can be found here.

CCFC Brings #StopMcTeachersNights to McDonald’s Headquarters

This week, we took our message to Stop McTeacher’s Nights directly to McDonald’s. On May 24, CCFC joined Corporate Accountability International (CAI) at a rally at McDonald’s flagship restaurant in Chicago. Students from Chicago’s Academy for Global Citizenship gave a moving presentation, and the event was covered by the local ABC affiliate. Later that day, CCFC and CAI representatives visited McDonald’s headquarters in Oak Brook, IL, to deliver a petition signed by more than 30,000 people asking McDonald’s to put an end to McTeacher’s Nights. The petition was hosted by CCFC, CAI, the Center for a New American Dream, the National Education Association, Public Citizen/Commercial Alert, and the Story of Stuff. The rally and petition delivery were part of a series of actions timed to coincide with the McDonald’s Annual Shareholder Meeting and pressure the company to stop marketing junk food in schools, as well as change its marketing, labor, and environmental practices. 

An Important New Report on School Commercialism

The Commercialism in Education Research Unit at the National Education Policy Center released its 18th annual report on trends in schoolhouse commercialism: Learning to be Watched: Surveillance Culture at School. The report, by Faith Boninger and Alex Molnar, is an important read for anyone concerned about the commercialization of our schools and the push to incorporate screen technologies into all aspects of education. 

The report focuses on the development of a “surveillance culture” in schools: as children are increasingly directed online to do their schoolwork, they are exposed to tracking of their online behavior and subsequent targeted marketing. This year’s report documents how schools facilitate the work of digital marketers and examines the effects of their relentless tracking of and marketing to children. Constant digital surveillance and marketing at school combine to normalize corporate involvement in kids’ education and in their lives more generally.

Thomas the Tank Engine vs. Thomas the Franchise

What do you do when your kid falls in love with a character . . . and that character is also a brand? When Erik Assoudian's son discovered Thomas the Tank Engine, Erik wasn't sure how to proceed: how could he share this character with his son without also exposing him to Thomas's multiple lines of branded merchandise? Erik, a Senior Fellow at the Worldwide Institute, shares how he navigated these tricky waters, offering advice and tips to parents who find themselves in a similar situation. (Spoiler alert: it involves reading lots of books together!) 

Laurel Parker West & Julia Chen Join the CCFC Board!

We are pleased to announce the newest members of our Board of Directors, Laurel Parker West and Julia Chen. A former owner of a toy store that was devoted to promoting creative play, Julia now serves as an advisor to a German wooden toy making company. Laurel is a longtime and passionate advocate for children who currently serves as Vice President, National Programs & Operations for GOOD+ Foundation, a national nonprofit that uses the power of donated goods and transformational services to help break the cycle of family poverty. You can learn more about Julia, Laurel, and all of our amazing Board here

McDonald’s Stops Presenting Infomercial in Schools

Last fall, mother and advocate Bettina Siegel exposed how McDonald’s was pushing the film 540 Meals, a “nutrition” infomercial, in schools. The film follows a teacher who eats nothing but McDonald’s food for six months. McDonald’s marketed the film as educational, but as Bettina pointed out, it was “little more than a heavily-branded infomercial for the fast food chain, one that seems cynically calculated to get kids to eat even more fast food than they do now.” More than 90,000 people signed Bettina’s petition demanding that McDonald’s stop showing the film in schools. This month, the Washington Post reported that McDonald’s has discontinued the program. Congrats to Bettina and thanks to all of you who signed the petition and helped to bring about this change. Now it’s time to end McTeacher’s Nights!

School Bus Action Center 2016

Does your state permit school bus ads? Ads on school buses exploit a captive audience of schoolchildren, may make school buses less safe, and return little of the revenue promised to schools—less than one dollar per student per year. Thanks in part to our advocacy efforts, only nine states permit the practice: Arizona, Colorado, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah. If you live in one those states, please visit our School Bus Action Center and contact your school board to say: don’t sell out our kids!

Recommended Reading