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:
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.
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