Scholastic Inc. Questioned for Biased Classroom Materials

Scholastic Inc. is being called out for distributing one-sided educational materials to thousands of elementary aged students, again. Scholastic Inc. materials can be found in a plethora of public school classrooms across the country, but is being questioned for packaging information based on corporate sponsorship. The most recent issue is being addressed by three advocacy groups regarding Scholastic’s promotion of using coal for energy.

Rethinking Schools, Friends of the Earth and the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood have organized a letter writing campaign in an attempt to pull biased Scholastic materials from classroom curriculum. Prior attempts for similar goals have not resulted in desirable outcomes for advocacy groups.

Titled “United States of Energy”, the Scholastic program promotes the benefits of using coal for energy. Highlighting the amount of American states which produce coal, the number of coal plants providing electricity and the percentage of energy produced by coal are used to put a positive spin on the coal industry. The groups point out that the materials fail to acknowledge the negative environmental facts, the health issues associated with coal mining, and the connection between coal powered energy and green house gas consequences. Leaving out the negative effects, they say, is due to Scholastic’s partnership with the Coal Foundation.

Bill Bigelow from Rethinking Schools expressed his distaste for the coal promoting materials when he told the New York Times “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.”

Creating biased materials is not a new claim against Scholastic Inc. A similar uprising occurred when Scholastic partnered with SunnyD, a juice company, to create the “SunnyD Book Spree” an event essentially promoting sales for SunnyD. A partnership in 2005 with the Cartoon Network promoted television programming through character posters and classroom materials.

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