…perhaps you will enjoy the contents of the following email from Bill Bigelow of Rethinking Schools:
Dear Rethinking Schools friends,
Monday’s New York Times reports that Scholastic, Inc. has dramatically revised its practice of partnering with corporations to produce curriculum it distributes to teachers.
In May, after a Rethinking Schools article critiquing its pro-coal “The United States of Energy” curriculum, and an effort led by Rethinking Schools and the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, Scholastic pulled the curriculum from its website and admitted that it had erred when it partnered with the American Coal Foundation. But it failed to end its “InSchool Marketing” program, and even continued to distribute biased curriculum like “Shedding Light on Energy,” which it produced for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy.
Following its initial reversal, a coalition of 16 organizations including Rethinking Schools, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace USA, the Sierra Club, the Center for Biological Diversity, and 350.org, demanded that Scholastic stop hiring itself out to for-profit corporations that sought to reach children with their self-interested messages. And a subsequent petition campaign drew over 57,000 signatures.
Two weeks ago, after inquiries from Rethinking Schools, Scholastic abruptly pulled “Shedding Light on Energy” from its website. And late last week, Scholastic wrote with news that it had changed its policies on corporate-sponsored curriculum, announcing it would:
appoint a Partner Review Board consisting of a curriculum editor, a teacher, a school administrator, a child psychologist, and a parenting expert to evaluate potential partners and review the content of sponsored programs;
reduce the materials produced by the InSchool Marketing division by about 40%, through more rigorous screening by this review board;
require that any new sponsored curriculum be approved by this review board.
As Susan Linn, Director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, said, “As a result of this decision, students will be exposed to less corporate PR in classrooms this fall. It’s an important victory for children and anyone who believes that education should be commercial-free.”
Scholastic’s reversal shows that when education and social/environmental justice organizations work together and focus on the school curriculum, we can have a huge impact — in terms of changing the curriculum in positive ways as well as provoking more public discussion.
As always, thank you for your important work and for your support of Rethinking Schools.
email eliminated from this posting
P.S. We are able to do this work because of subscriptions to our quarterly magazine, book purchases, and generous donations from supporters. Please take a moment to go to our website to subscribe or support Rethinking Schools.
The folks at Rethinking Schools are among the true good guys in education. I was delighted to spend time at Save Our Schools with Bob Peterson and Stan Karp.
They have shown us how we can make a difference.
And perhaps you might recognize that by giving them a little assistance?