In response to pressure from tens of thousands of parents, educators and grassroots advocates, Scholastic Inc. has agreed to drastically limit its practice of partnering with corporations to produce sponsored teaching materials. Scholastic’s announcement is the culmination of a three-month campaign led by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood.
The publisher had been under fire since May, when it was forced to stop distributing a biased curriculum called “The United States of Energy” that was paid for by the coal industry and distributed to fourth-grade classrooms across the country. CCFC and Rethinking Schools called on Scholastic to drop the curriculum. After Scholastic capitulated, CCFC expanded the campaign—in concert with online social action platform Change.org—to lobby for sweeping reforms to Scholastic’s controversial InSchool Marketing division, which produced teaching materials sponsored by corporations, nonprofits and government agencies.
Last Thursday, Scholastic notified CCFC and Change.org of major changes to its InSchool Marketing Program, including:
- A 40% reduction in the materials produced by InSchool Marketing, with the overwhelming majority of those cuts coming from its corporate-sponsored programs.
- The creation of 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.
- Required approval for all sponsored curriculum by the Partner Review Board.
The changes are highlighted in the New York Times. In addition, Scholastic confirmed to CCFC that it has ended a two-year partnership with SunnyD, in which the sugar-laden beverage was promoted in elementary school classrooms.
Scholastic’s InSchool Marketing program has been used to market everything from ice cream to Hollywood movies in children’s classrooms. Clients have included McDonald’s, Cartoon Network, Shell, SunnyD, Nestle, and Disney.
The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (www.commercialfreechildhood.org) is a national coalition that counters the harmful effects of marketing to children. CCFC is a project of Third Sector New England (www.tsne.org).
Melanie Mayo-Laakso is the Content Manager for Mothering.com. Mothering is the birthplace of natural family living and attachment parenting. We celebrate the experience of parenthood as worthy of one's best efforts and are at once fierce advocates for children and gentle supporters of parents.