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In my last entry, I posted about how Subway Restaurants had chosen to exclude home educators from their writing contest titled “Every Sandwich Tells a Story”. The decision to leave homeschoolers out has struck many, including myself, as unfair discrimination, although it is not clear that negative motivation was involved.

The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) drafted a letter of response to Subway, and I am happy to report that this letter, in addition to a vocal public response, has elicited an apology from the restaurant company, as well as, a promise to include homeschoolers in future promotional offerings.

You can read the HSLDA letter to Subway, and Subway’s response to them below.

Open Letter to Subway: Let Homeschoolers Enter Contest
May 27, 2008
Frederick A. DeLuca, President
Subway Restaurant Headquarters
325 Bic Drive
Milford, CT 06461-3059

Dear Mr. DeLuca:

By way of introduction, I am the President of Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) and we represent 83,000 member families nationwide. This letter is to draw attention to your “Every Sandwich Tells a Story Contest,” and the unfortunate fact that homeschoolers are not allowed to participate.

The rules clearly state: “Contest is open only to legal residents of the United States who are currently over the age of 18 and have children who attend elementary, private or parochial schools that serve grades PreK-6. No home schools will be accepted (emphasis added).”

It is extremely disappointing that Subway would choose to exclude the estimated 2 million homeschooled students.

We understand that the competition is focused on traditional public and private schools because the grand prize of $5,000 of athletic equipment is designed to be used by a traditional school and not an individual family. A potential homeschool winner, however, could simply donate the grand prize to a public or private school of their choice or to a homeschool sports league.

Homeschooling is a thriving educational option. All the available research shows that homeschoolers are excelling academically and socially. We do not deserve to be overlooked.

We hope that you will reconsider the rules of your competition and choose to amend them to include homeschoolers.

Sincerely,

J. Michael Smith
HSLDA President

This letter can be read via the HSLDA web-site here:

http://www.hslda.org/docs/news/200805270.asp

Subway Apologizes
HSLDA is pleased to pass along the following apology from Subway restaurants.

To HSLDA:

We at SUBWAY restaurants place a high value on education, regardless of the setting, and have initiated a number of programs and promotions aimed at educating our youth in the areas of health and fitness.

We sincerely apologize to anyone who feels excluded by our current essay contest. Our intention was to provide an opportunity for traditional schools, many of which we know have trouble affording athletic equipment, to win equipment. Our intent was certainly not to exclude homeschooled children from the opportunity to win prizes and benefit from better access to fitness equipment.

To address the inadvertent limitation of our current contest and provide an opportunity for even more kids to improve their fitness, we will soon create an additional contest in which homeschooled students will be encouraged to participate. When the kids win, everyone wins!

This response letter from Subway can be read here:

http://www.hslda.org/docs/news/200805280.asp

 


 

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The sandwich restaurant Subway, is currently running a writing contest for children who are in the pre-K to 6th grade school level. Each child who wishes to enter is encouraged to select a “story-starter” from a list of choices, and write an original story that is 500 words or less in length. This sounds like a great idea. It encourages creative writing and is an activity supporting time spent not sitting in front of the television or a video game system. This contest promotes practice in spelling and grammar skills, also admirable, despite the obvious spelling errors in the promotional materials they offer. The problem? They BLATANTLY discriminate against homeschoolers and their children. Homeschoolers are not welcome to enter.

Now, before I get the same responses that I have been running across elsewhere, allow me to say this. If a public or a private school were having a similar contest I would not expect my homeschooled children to be eligible to participate. When HSLDA or another home education related group has an essay contest, I do not expect traditionally schooled children to be eligible to participate. Those are very separate entities with a clear division of purpose. I would certainly not propose that my daughter be allowed to participate in the Boy Scouts, or call her exclusion from that organization discriminatory. Presumably however, Subway is a restaurant organized to feed and serve the entire community, who wish to indulge, and not just a specific portion of it. So disallowing home educators to participate is DISCRIMINATION.

I have also heard the argument that because part of the prize package is a $5000.00 athletic package, that only traditional schools should be able to take part in this contest. This too is absurd, because it would be easy to find a homeschool support association, youth club, or similar group to donate to which would be very grateful for such supplies. Really, they have no leg to stand on.

This merely hails as a very bad marketing choice for Subway, and I do not intend to provide them with my business again until it is rectified. Perhaps my response seems harsh to some, but in my mind, blatant discrimination against children based upon the fact that they are being homeschooled is ridiculous. Subway will definitely be receiving a mature and well-worded letter of comment from me, and if you feel as I do, I urge you to do the same. After all, the point is not to just sit around and complain, it is to try and right a wrong. You can read more details about the contest below.

The source for this news story is located here:

http://www.worldnetdaily.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=65217

Here is the article:

Subway sandwich contest: Homeschoolers not wanted

 
Spelling-challenged promotion offers gift ‘bastket’ to winners

 
Posted: May 24, 2008
7:00 pm Eastern

 
By Jay Baggett
© 2008 WorldNetDaily

 
Subway, the sandwich restaurant, wants to hear your child’s story – unless he or she is homeschooled.

The national chain’s “Every Sandwich Tells a Story Contest” offers prizes and a chance to be published on the Subway website and in Scholastic’s “Parent & Child” magazine but specifically excludes homeschoolers:

 
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. Contest is open only to legal residents of the Untied (sic) States who are currently over the age of 18 and have children who attend elementary, private or parochial schools that serve grades PreK-6. No home schools will be accepted.

Subway’s website promotion not only misspells “United” States, but offers the grand prize winner a “Scholastic Gift Bastket (sic) for your home.”

The 2007 winner of the Scripps National Spelling Bee was Evan O’Dorney, a 13-year old homeschool student from Danville, Calif.

Contestants are urged to write, in 500 words or less, a story that has a beginning, middle, and end using one of four provided story starters:

The Mysterious Meatball
When the invitation to the Meatball came in the mail…

Turkey Doesn’t Live Here Anymore
There was a loud knock on the door, but when Salami Sam opened it …

The Race to Red Onion Ranch
Everyone gathered in the center of town for the start of the race except …

Nothing Better
The smell of fresh baked bread coming from the store was so good that …

The contest, launched in January, has a deadline of June 30, 2008. A grand prize winner and 6 runners-up will be selected on July 15 and announced approximately a week later.

 
The company’s website promotion encourages submitters to describe in their essays “random acts of fitness,” such as eating right, exercising, playing sports and living a healthy lifestyle.

Subway has marketed itself for several years as a healthy alternative to fast food, featuring spokesman Jared Fogle who went from 425 pounds to 190 pounds on a daily diet of the chain’s lower-calorie sandwiches.

The exclusion of homeschoolers, presumably because the grand prize includes $5,000 worth of athletic equipment for the winning child’s school, has caught the attention of bloggers who educate their children.

Valerie Bonham Moon, writing for HomeEdMag, referred to the exclusion as “Subway’s P.R. gaffe.”

“By now, the Subway sandwich shop marketing division must know how bad of a decision it was on the part of whichever wonk who decided to expressly exclude homeschoolers from their latest contest. E-mail lists may not be utterly aflame over the exclusion, but there is more than one p—ed-off homeschool mom spreading the word. I’ve been reading their e-mails.”

Moon notes Subway, with a bit of forethought, could have easily included homeschoolers:

“One of the more obvious work-arounds that the developers of the Subway contest could have included for homeschooling parents who entered on their children’s behalf, was for the equipment to be donated to a local park, or to a school of the winner’s choice. Problem solved – good will all around. Too bad that it didn’t play out that way.

“I look forward to seeing how the Subway wonks handle their self-inflicted wound.”

The blogger at Capturing Today, a homeschooling mother, isn’t waiting for the self-inflicted wound, suggesting homeschool families “act now!”

“Excuse me, but there are MILLIONS of homeschool students in this nation and this is just discrimination. A homeschool student could easily donate the athletic equipment to their homeschool athletic association, local park, athletic center, neighborhood center or the like. I realize they are doing this to have a mass-marketing effect, but they could have just as great a media response from a charitable homeschool student donating the prize.

“I believe this is a wonderful opportunity for us to make our voices heard that we as homeschool families are tired of being cast in a negative light.

Jim and Cathy Peschke, blogging at Croydoncraft, expressed their displeasure by entering an essay on behalf of their 3-year-old homeschooled daughter who, while visiting a Subway restaurant, breaks into tears upon learning she’s not eligible to enter the contest.

“I cried and cried, and asked Daddy if we could leave. He said ‘Certainly. Not only will we never visit a mean old Subway store again, we’ll organize a B-O-Y-C-O-T-T of Subway stores by all your homeschooling friends!’

‘I sure hope Subway changes their silly policy so Mommy and Daddy can take me back for more sandwiches.'”

 

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