September 2017

Fighting the corporate takeover of schools with Backpack Full of Cash; Save the date: Children’s Screen Time Action Network Conference; How to nourish screen-free connections; New report on EdTech and school commercialism; Take the pledge to Wait Until 8th; CCFC on the road; Recommended reading and viewing.

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In this issue: 

  • Fighting the corporate takeover of schools with Backpack Full of Cash
  • Save the date: Children’s Screen Time Action Network Conference
  • How to nourish screen-free connections
  • New report on EdTech and school commercialism
  • Take the pledge to Wait Until 8th
  • CCFC on the road
  • Recommended reading and viewing

Fighting the corporate takeover of schools with Backpack Full of Cash

On September 13, CCFC, Citizens for Public Schools, and the Schott Foundation hosted the Boston premiere of Backpack Full of Cash. The screening of the acclaimed film, which explores the privatization of public schools and the impact of market-based reform on the country’s most vulnerable students, was a huge success: over 650 passionate teachers, students, and advocates filled the theater to capacity!

After the film, CCFC’s Josh Golin moderated a panel with Matt Damon (the film’s narrator), CCFC Senior Advisor Nancy Carlsson-Paige, Boston Teachers Union President Jessica Tang, and Youth On Board’s Luis Navarro. The conversation was illuminating and inspiring, drawing connections between the commercialization of childhood and the encroaching corporate influence in public schools. As Josh explained, “children are harmed when they are valued only for what they bring to a market economy.” 

Together, the panel discussed possible solutions, and urged the audience to get involved and really listen to youth. Speaking for his fellow students, Luis told the crowd, “We hear about these cuts—what are you cutting, my arm? We need everyone to back us up when we say this isn’t right.” 

We are thrilled to be fostering these important conversations. To learn more about the film, including how to host a screening in your area, visit

Save the date: Children’s Screen Time Action Network Conference

Our inaugural Children’s Screen Time Action Network Conference is in Boston on April 20 and 21, 2018! Join us for the very first conference on reducing children’s screen time. Hear from experts on child development and media, including Doug Gentile, Victoria Dunckley, Nancy Carlsson-Paige — plus special guest Paula Poundstone! Meet teachers, pediatricians, psychologists, social workers, and others working to help children get the offline time they need to thrive. Together, we’ll share ideas, form work groups, and strengthen the movement to restore play, relationships, nature, and adventure in childhood. Registration will open in October. Interested in presenting? Click here to download the RFP (.doc file).

How to nourish screen-free connections

You know how we’re always saying that screen-free time together is important for community and connection? Well now we’ve got the math to prove it! Criscilla Banford and Bill Softky have just published a groundbreaking article in the peer-reviewed Journal of Neural Computation that uses mathematical laws of information flow to explain how and why digital devices suck up our attention and leave us feeling discomforted and anxious. The good news? It turns out there is a cure for screen-induced anxiety: Spend more time with faces than you do with screens! And Criscilla and Bill have some solid tips for building screen-free spaces. Learn more on our blog, and then schedule some nourishing time with your loved ones.  

New report on EdTech and school commercialism

The Commercialism in Education Research Unit at the National Education Policy Center has released its 19th annual report on trends in school commercialism. Asleep at the Switch: Schoolhouse Commercialism, Student Privacy, and the Failure of Policymaking, by Faith Boninger, Alex Molnar, and Kevin Murray, explores how new educational technologies are increasingly harnessed to amplify corporate marketing and profit-making. As lax regulation permits unfettered data collection, students are socialized to accept constant monitoring and surveillance as normal. This report is an important read for parents of school children, and is an excellent companion to our own Parent Toolkit for Student Privacy

Take the pledge to Wait Until 8th

Lots of parents are concerned with the risks associated with young children using smartphones, from excessive screen time to cyberbullying to constant exposure to harmful marketing. But when it comes to making the decision to buy or not buy a smart phone, there’s a lot of social pressure from fellow parents and from children’s peers and classmates. That’s why we love the Wait Until 8th pledge, which empowers parents to delay giving children a smartphone until at least 8th grade. By banding together, kids and parents don’t need to go it alone. Learn more about the pledge — and why CCFC’s Josh Golin signed for his own daughter — on our blog

CCFC on the road

CCFC staff are hitting the road to share our work, and we want to meet you! Come find out more about what we’re up to, and tell us about all the things you’re doing to support a commercial-free childhood.

Recommended reading and viewing