Powerless parents

2009/02/17 at 09:38

According to this NYT article, the group Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood recently discovered what every parent of a public-school child has known for years: a lot of the stuff that Scholastic is selling in the flyers that they send home with kids is not books. Based on this shocking finding, CCFC has started a ‘Put the Book Back in Book Club‘ campaign.
What gets me is this (from the NYT article):

Susan Linn, director of the campaign, said she had received complaints from parents who were concerned that their children were being sold toys, games, makeup and other items under the guise of a literary book club that is promoted in classrooms.

For parents like this, I have one piece of advice: if you don’t want your kids buying junk, don’t let them. Do you really need to complain to an anti-consumer watchdog group about it?
When Samuel brings the Scholastic flyers home, he inevitably asks to buy a toy, not a book. No duh, he’s a kid. I know this might come as a shock to some, but I actually tell him what he can buy: sometimes I let him get a toy; sometimes I tell him he can choose a book, but most of the time, I just tell him ‘no.’
Side note: I always just assumed that schools send these flyers home because the school benefits financially in some way from the sales it generates. If that’s true, it’s no obvious on the Scholastic web site (not surprising). Is my assumption correct? If so, can any teachers or school administrators explain the arrangement?