Scholastic, the world’s largest publisher of children’s books, has announced that it is cutting back its InSchool marketing division’s corporate-sponsored projects, and creating a new review board to vet its materials.
Two months I wrote here that the company had pulled its biased coal curriculum, thanks to pressure from the media and from Care2 members. The curriculum, distributed to 66,000 fourth grade teachers, was sponsored by the American Coal Foundation, meaning that it somehow failed to mention any of the downsides of coal production: no negative effects of mining and burning coal, no toxic wastes, no lung disease, no greenhouse houses.
Scholastic Dumped Its Coal Curriculum – Now Others Are On The Chopping Block
Now Scholastic is taking further steps to loosen its ties with corporations.
Here’s what The New York Times reports:
“We have to improve our standards, and make sure there’s not a scintilla of anything that could be suggested to be biased,” said Richard Robinson, the president and chief executive of Scholastic. “The vast majority of our programs are not controversial, but once in a while there was a slip-up in editorial judgment.”
The company said last week that it would make a partial retreat from corporate and industry-sponsored programs and lesson plans it distributes free to teachers. It has already withdrawn some of its most controversial programs. But others, including a lesson plan sponsored by the American Egg Board recommending the health benefits of eggs, are continuing.
Scholastic InSchool, part of the company’s marketing division, distributes the materials, which are paid for by dozens of corporations and agencies like the Census Bureau. The InSchool unit accounts for less than 1 percent of Scholastic’s $2 billion in revenues, and fewer than two dozen of its 10,000 employees. The bulk of Scholastic revenues come from publishing books, like the Harry Potter and Hunger Games fiction series, and literacy programs like Read 180.
Shouldn’t Scholastic Abandon All Corporate Ties?
But wouldn’t it be better if Scholastic simply stopped producing any teaching materials paid for by a for-profit corporation or a trade group that promotes business interests?
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