CCFC Puts Energy Into Cleaning Up School Commercialism

May 16, 2011 Continuing our ‘positive picks’ series on media and marketing that matters, a gigantic ‘Howard Beale’ style shout from the windows “w00t!” to champions of change at CCFC, Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood who snuffed out the filthy coal curriculum pushed into schools via Scholastic after just 48 hours of harnessing the power of their CCFC aligned communities.

Just two days after CCFC and Rethinking Schools put the word out to allied orgs that “The United States of Energy” 4th grade  curriculum was polluted (it was paid for by the American Coal Foundation, see!) Scholastic agreed to immediately stop distributing this one-sided pay for play publishing once thousands of emails and some strong media stories (Time, Inc. , NYT article+ NYT opinion here) called attention to the um, smoke and stench.

Congratulations to CCFC and all who dare to raise small and mighty voices and triumph fast with David and Goliath aplomb. You not only create epic change, you show us all ‘how it’s done’ through collaboration, collective might and solidarity of spirit that inspires each of us with a ROAR to amplify to tremble-and-shake proportions. Reminds me of my post about the Coen Brothers Ad For Clean Coal Air Freshener a fun media literacy spoof that made many ‘roar’ with laughter while spotting the ‘elephant in the room.’

And speaking of the elephant in the classroom…(lookin’ at you,  Scholastic) I want to know how many strikes Scholastic gets before they’re OUT? Or did they buy the umpire, too?

Scholastic has been hand-slapped many, MANY times for these ‘backdoor’ vested interest antics, selling out schools (and kids!) using their privileged position as the world’s largest educational publisher.

Anyone remember CCFC’s successful campaign to boot out Bratz books like “Catwalk Cuties” from Scholastic bookfairs so kids don’t have sexualized kidlit to add to the mega-mounds of toy premiums that so often dominate the ‘educational’ offerings?

Well, I sure do…And I’ve written about their stealthy tactics to shill for industry sponsored vested interests many times before.

They simply cannot have it both ways.

Transparency and authenticity, people. That’s the marketing mantra. Where’s the disclosure and ethics on commercial vs educational interests? The line of institutional ‘church and state’ has been breached in the marcom/materials and ‘advertorial’ education realm multiple times…

Scholastic’s fall fiasco in schools this past year with Sunny D’s sugar spree swapping free books for labels was my personal “worst” as far as  nutritional nightmares meets counter-marketing and commercialism. Hands down.

This counter-productive partnership between Scholastic and the 20g of sugary SunnyD (Coke is 27grams/8oz!) complete with artificial flavors, colors, (Yellow #5 & #6 food dyes) just about put me over the top in my desire to storm Washington D.C. and the “Let’s Move” movement to show-n-tell the impact of cruddy policies enabling embedded companies like this to have carte blanche access to kids.

Imagine being tasked with educating about poor nutrition and artificial processed foods in a Title One school with close to half the population in high risk for obesity associated diseases…

FINALLY after achieving the media literacy ‘aha’ moment among students, parents and faculty that “Sunny D is NOT remotely orange juice, do NOT be fooled” …whammo! Here comes Scholastic traipsing in trumpeting the need for kids to collect “SunnyD labels” in exchange for 20 free Scholastic books after they’ve swigged the stuff.

Yes, you can feel my slow burn.

Sadly, these kids will have to ‘burn off’ the harm (and the calories) of faux ‘pretenders’ like SunnyD that undermine public health of the kids with persistent perceptions that they ‘must be healthy’ (because they’re in school programs? Ahem) ‘are vitamin-fortified’ (see label literacy and teaching ad lingo to kids and their parents) and ‘sure looks like juice’ (insert weasel words and cheap shot tricks to bluff and cover unhealthy high calorie crud  being marketed as a ‘healthier choice’)

I always lead the media literacy lure with…“Healthier than…?” And let them fill in the “what.”

A candy bar? Maybe. Not always. Anyway, you get my point. Dander up. Scholastic down. Score one for media literacy. CCFC for the win.

But again…I ask you…what will it take to lose the halo of this ‘educator’s choice’ type of privileged position that holds so much clout in schools?

Desperate for fundraising and fresh classroom materials, faculty is held hostage with faux promises of some sort of ‘vetted’ version of what bookfairs used to be.

You know, when Scholastic used to stand for quality that was hand-selected by teachers or ‘preferred picks’ by ALA librarians…Akin to a level of credibility reserved for ‘Caldecott and Newbery Award winners’ featured finds…Let’s all focus on the operative words USED to be. Now school book fairs are just glorified toy stores, ‘on site for parent convenience. Bring your wallet and your guilt. Bleh.

To me, Scholastic has abused the privilege of ‘partnering’ with schools so repeatedly and so blatantly that “who’s got the goods” comes to mind, as they’re FAR beyond three strikes by my count. Possibly even in double digits by now.

Good news is that CCFC added some new ‘partners’ themselves in the process this round, who will no doubt serve them well in future fights with “got your back” advocacy. Even better news is that Scholastic has announced it will “review its policies and editorial procedures on sponsored classroom materials.”

Well it’s about freakin’ time… “Yerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr out!” Would’ve been my whistle tweet and umpire call long, long ago.

Just for fun, since it seems apropos given the subject matter and CCFC’s new science and eco partners in this victory, I’ll reprise my post about the Coen Brothers’ ad spoof (below) on the Scholastic/Coal Cover Up By Sins of Omission:

“It’s not likely that a book called Harry Potter and the Mountaintop Removal Project would have much appeal to middle-schoolers. And have fun trying to get the pre-K crowd interested in Clifford the Big Red Strip-Mine Operator.

The good news is you’re never likely to see such literary nasties. The bad news is that Scholastic, the publisher responsible for both Harry and Clifford and thousands of other extraordinary books, does seem to have gotten surprisingly friendly with the coal industry of late — and it’s kids who could wind up paying the price. (read more at

Take Action Links From CCFC Advocacy Site

CCFC Guide to Commercial Free Book Fairs

Help CCFC Stop Deceptive “Your Baby Can Read” Marketing

Tell Legislators: Don’t Turn School Buses Into Traveling Billboards

Host A Screening of CCFC’s Consuming Kids

Related Posts: CCFC/Brandwashing on Shaping Youth

Mouse, Inc? Disney Bullies Small & Mighty CCFC From Home?

CCFC’s Susan Linn: $17 Billion Spent on Marketing to Kids

Shaping Youth Co-Sponsors Consuming Kids Premiere/Oak

Scholastic: Treat ’em As a Commercial Brand Like Any Other

School Sit Ups Sponsored By Soda & Snacks?

Kellogg’s Agrees to Restrict Food Marketing to Kids, F’Real?

Bogus Junk Food Bans Proliferate School Policy

SY Brandwashing Data: Larger Than Stanford’s Study

CCFC/Susan Linn: The Value of Unstructured Play

CCFC/Susan Linn The Case for Make-Believe Part One

Defending Pretending: The Need for Prominent Play: Part 2

Generation Digital MIT Review &  Six Degress of Susan Linn



  1. Hmm i think you are right.CCFC puts some efforts into cleaning up school commercialism.

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