Florida school board approves McDonald's report-cards and school-bus audio ads

The Seminole County Florida School District -- which recently signed up (and then had to cancel) McDonald's-sponsored report-cards has also approved a pilot program for school-bus audio advertising:

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.


  1. i can’t speak to the situation in needham, mass., but it seems quite often that the very “uppity parents” who would get up in arms over ronald mcdonald on a report card are the very same uppity citizens who vote down things like proposed property tax hikes to benefit underfunded school districts. i’m not sure which behavior i find more crass.

  2. So buses and grades now join Channel One and in-school vending machines. I’d be dismayed, by kids are really really good at ignoring things.

  3. I’m sorry, it’s crass to get up in arms about advertising in buses or on report cards? I’m horrified that kids would be subjected to advertising there, especially sound when it’s hard to avoid. I understand that schools need support financially, but this isn’t the way to do it.

  4. This is merely a continuation of the vending machines that have been in high schools for a long time now.

  5. I fear that no quantity of public service announcements will magically install passenger seat belts on school busses.
    “Buckle up, kids!”
    “How? We have no seat belts!”)

    1. lol Sorceror Mickey–if you think no seatbelts are bad–how about forcing kids 3 to a seat? I believe that’s over the legal capacity limit. If I knew back when my daughter rode that bus o’ death waiting to happen, I’d have called the school board and the newspapers.

      I think the advertising would be a pretty bad thing–especially by a company that makes a fortune in selling bad for you food. It seems lately everyone everywhere is looking to find quick fixes for the economy but most of the proposed “fixes” are slippery slopes that will be disasterous in the future. First advertising on the bus, then advertising in text books and then advertising over the loud speaker to subliminal messages flashing all through the school–and not only by mcdonald’s. but companys such as all those Teen clothing stores, to sport drinks, to weight loss supplements, the list could stretch on forever. Kids get bombarded by that crap everywhere else–school should be a advertising free zone.

      As for people who oppose tax hikes because they don’t have kids, well shame on them!! They most likely had kids in the past who went to tax funded schools. Let’s not mention the future in which a nation full of ignoramuses are the ones in charge of the govt or wiping your behind in the nursing home–I shudder to think of that.

  6. This reminds me of the fake history lessons on the bus in Francine Prose’s awesome 1984-in-high-school After. Spooky.

  7. I’d rather have McDonald’s on my report card than

    I thought Channel 1 (with it’s news for dummies approach and soda commercials) was bad back in high school. What made it even worse were teachers who mandated we stop reading or working on homework and sit watching the tv. Mandated watching of a young anderson cooper might sound like some folks ideas of a good time, but it drove me to join band and thus avoid homeroom telescreen viewing.

  8. What is almost (but not quite) more horrifying than advertising in schools is the “2 or less absences” criterion for getting a Happy Meal. Shouldn’t it read “2 or *fewer* absences”?

  9. Steve, I would be up in arms over the crass commercialization itself and higher property taxes. I don’t think there are very many Americans, much less those who own homes, who agree with the idea of taxing property (and taxing it at ever higher rates).
    I say find another way to fund public schools, and stop the endless taxation on property and anything else the government finds the need to label as a “sin” and tax at ever increasing rates.

  10. As much as I’d like to be upset at the thought of the schoolboard taking money from corporate interests and such… I’d be much more concerned about why the government that is supposed to fund public education has chosen not to do so.

    Just take the money out of things like Homeland Security. Most of the money going there is being wasted anyways.

  11. Just think – if McDonald’s would just start buying schools, we could see a resurgence in the old characters. Ronald McDonald High School Hamburglars are gonna kick your ass!

  12. I went to small-town public schools with 100 or fewer students per grade and very little funding. When I see stories about large school districts grubbing after money, I remember my freshman year in college when I found out how much more well-educated my classmates and I were than most of the people who went to large schools with things like Olympic swimming pools and computers in every classroom. I’ll never be convinced that tons of money is required for a good education.

  13. I am not an ‘uppity parent,’ but you can bet I would be an ‘uppity concerned citizen’ if I found out the public schools in my area were pushing ads for junk food down the throats of neighborhood kids *as an implied reward for doing well in school*. That’s god-damned ridiculous. Commercial advertising should be in the same boat as prayer: useful to some, but it should have absolutely NO PLACE in public schools, where most of our population is required to spend its formative years.

  14. @22: I knew about this from the stopping on the report card. This was the first time I had seen reference to audio ads on the schoolbus

  15. I don’t know about anyone else, but in my personal school bus experience, Bus Radio would be a total waste of money. Every school bus I ever rode on in my grade school days was (go figure) full of kids, and we were always so loud we could barely hear each other, let alone the bus driver’s radio.

  16. I’d be much more concerned about why the government that is supposed to fund public education has chosen not to do so.

    I think you’ll find that it isn’t government, necessarily, that has chosen not to fund education. Rather, it’s the parents, through their unceasing anti-tax mentality, that forces government to underfund schools and, thus, schools to crawl into corporate beds just to make ends meet.

    You get what you pay for. And, if you demand to pay nothing…well…guess what you get?

  17. I’m not an uppity parent, I’m not a parent at all (yet) but I still find this tactic offensive and inappropriate. There’s plenty of money to fund the schools without taxing people to death if we stop funding wars and ridiculous government programs. Rewarding kids with a high fat, high calorie, ‘treat’ full of chemicals and blasting them with ads on the bus that they can’t turn off is just plain wrong. It’s bad enough that kids barely get an education in public school and have to eat junk for lunch without the government and big-business spewing their propaganda all over our kids.

  18. While not a sponsored report card, I actually have my grade school report card from West Plam Beach FL that I brought to McD’s to get a stamp on circa 1980. The fact that I actually remember this proves it to be good (bad) marketing!

  19. Come on, we all know blatant advertising in schools isn’t anything new. Hey, remember Pizza Hut’s Book It! program? Actually, I think it’s still around. You were rewarded Pizza Hut pizzas if you read books. I think my school started doing this around 1990 (when I was in 4th grade). Before that I remember getting ‘excellence certificates’ from Shakey’s Pizza, and attending McDonald’s-sponsored events with ol’ Ronald himself. In high school I probably plunked down a buck almost every day to get a Cherry Coke out of the vending machine.

    But I also had great teachers and a quality education, so I don’t see how junk food destroyed my youthful school days. If anything it made learning a bit more fun.

  20. Steven,

    In my experience the “uppity parents” are the ones who care about the schools and vote for taxes for schools. That has been what I have observed and it also seems to me to be the logical connection of responses.

    As I understand it, the folks who vote against funding education are usually the ones under the delusion that they have no stake in the school systems, seniors for example. This is why a lot of schools in Florida are less than stellar.

    But we’d need some stats to back up either of our assumptions. Otherwise we’re just making an annoying noise.

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