Reading, Writing, and Advertising

Got a good grade? Get a Big Mac.

In Seminole County, Florida, kids who get all A’s and B’s, have a good attendance record, or receive good marks for behavior can get a free Happy Meal at their local McDonald’s.

The problem? The offer and details are outlined on the envelopes that Seminole’s public schools use to mail home report cards, according to the Orlando Sentinel. This has stirred up controversy in a county where the usual efforts to battle weight problems in children (taking trans fats out of cafeteria foods, teaching health consciousness) have gone into effect.

And while commenters to the story are right when they say that a Happy Meal every few weeks isn’t going to single-handedly make schoolkids obese, the problem, as the Adrants blog points out, is not with the food itself, but with the use of the report card as a venue for fast-food advertising.

Unless it’s not advertising after all … according to the Sentinel a spokesman for McDonald’s claimed that “McDonald’s does not advertise in the schools.” Instead, “This is a local program in Seminole County, Florida, that promotes academic excellence and rewards academic achievement.” Meanwhile, Seminole officials noted that they “consider the report-card promotions a ‘business partnership’ rather than an advertisement.”

Oh, well, in that case, carry on!

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