Scholastic Promotes American Coal Foundation Curriculum For 4th Graders

The fourth grade curriculum from Scholastic is all about educating the kids about coal. Sounds like a good idea, right? Wrong.

Coal Curriculum Supplied By The American Coal Foundation?

It turns out that the fourth-grade curriculum materials about coal were created by Scholastic Inc., but the American Coal Foundation paid Scholastic to develop them.

According to The New York Times:

The Scholastic materials say that coal is produced in half of the 50 states, that America has 27 percent of the world’s coal resources, and that it is the source of half the electricity produced in the nation, with about 600 coal-powered plants operating around the clock to provide electricity.

What they do not mention are the negative effects of mining and burning coal: the removal of Appalachian mountaintops; the release of sulfur dioxide, mercury and arsenic; the toxic wastes; the mining accidents; the lung disease.

“The curriculum pretends that it’s going to talk about the advantages and disadvantages of different energy choices, to align with national learning standards, but it doesn’t,” Mr. Bigelow said.

“The fact that coal is the major source of greenhouse gases in the United States is entirely left out,” he said. “There’s no hint that coal has any disadvantages.”

66,000 Fourth-Grade Teachers Received This Curriculum

According to an article by Alma Hale Paty, the executive director of the American Coal Foundation, and posted on Coalblog, “The United States of Energy” went to 66,000 fourth-grade teachers in 2009.

Which in turn means that it went to untold numbers of fourth-graders.

Scholastic Unavailable For Comment

According to The New York Times, Kyle Good, Scholastic’s vice president for corporate communications, was traveling for much of Wednesday and said she could not comment until she had all the “United States of Energy” materials in hand.

Others at the company said Ms. Good was the only one who could discuss the matter. The company would not comment on how much it was paid for its partnership with the coal foundation.

Scholastic’s InSchool Marketing division, which produced the coal curriculum in partnership with the coal foundation, often works with groups like the American Society of Hematology, the Federal Trade Commission and the Census Bureau to create curriculum materials.

A One-Sided View Of Coal — No Negative Effects?

Meanwhile, three groups: Rethinking Schools, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, and Friends of the Earth, say that Scholastic’s “United States of Energy” package gives children a one-sided view coal, failing to mention its negative effects on the environment and human health.

Scholastic, who did so much good by introducing Harry Potter to young people, has fallen down here. Let’s hope the company will do something to regain its reputation.


Photo Credit: iStock


Rosemary Rannes

I am totally disgusted with Scholastic which apparently has engaged in "you scratch my back and i'll scratch yours" !
Pathetic payoffs back to back! Our children deserve the truth!
Sadly Scholastic knows what the truth is but is sacrificing our children's EDUCATION & future for theirs!

Tina Scislow
Tina Scislow6 years ago

We need to teach our children well. Companies such as these need to realise that the situation is utterly urgent and that we need to protect the environment. It isn't funny anymore, it is as simple as that. POINT, END OF DISCUSSION.

Wioletta S.
Wioletta S6 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Rosie Lopez
Rosie Lopez6 years ago

that's very upsetting!!!

Angela R.
Angela R6 years ago

One again, corporations are having thier cake and eating ours too!

Betsy M.
Betsy M6 years ago

Since No Child Left Behind (sic) there is no time for the good teaching that could combat this.

Ernie Miller
william Miller6 years ago

I would like to think that most 4th grade teachers are as smart as my Teacher Mrs.Clark. She would see right thru that sort of stuff and have us resurching it on our own.

Carole Cherne
Carole Cherne6 years ago

A great teacher could use this material to demonstrate critical thinking. Asking clarifying questions, pointing to informative research, and using this propaganda as a springboard for discussion could energize the learning experience for fourth grade students. Unfortunately, teachers are required to use curriculum that may be flawed and has a sharp political bias. They are really improving strategies that teach children how to be critical thinkers.

Robert O.
Robert O6 years ago

I think it's time for an updated and modernized curriculum that clearly and concisely illustrates the history and evils of coal and fossil fuels and focuses on the benefits and necessity of renewable resources.

Deborah L.
Deborah Lashever6 years ago

Business as usual. (sigh) I saw this stuff going on since I was a kid....some decades ago.....corporations paying for the "education" of kids. Really indoctrination to the wonders of the corporate world! But understandable, since the public education system is total social Darwinism. Read John Taylor Gatto's book, "Dumbing us Down, the History of the Compulsary School System in the United States." he is a Harvard grad and documents every single shred of evidence. Well worth getting the book or viewing him on Youtube.

Did you see how the Texas Board of "Education",--not made up of any educators--were the ones deciding what went into our national text books? They wanted to take Thomas Jefferson out of the history books, as one example. Too radical.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

We are in trouble. Our country is being increasingly run by a "religious" right agenda. Stand up! Say no! NOW!