Scholastic Inc. bends to the will of environmental activists

Caroline May | Reporter

The educational book publisher Scholastic Inc. has bent to the will of activist groups, which objected to materials the company distributed to fourth grade students about various forms of energy — coal, nuclear, hydroelectric, solar, wind and natural gas.

Scholastic decided this month to stop distributing the “United States of Energy” after Friends of the Earth, Rethinking Schools, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, Greenpeace USA, and the Center for Biological Diversity protested the content, arguing that it did not show the negative effects of coal. They pointed to the American Coal Foundation’s sponsorship as the reason why.

“Teachers are told that the curriculum aligns with national standards because it teaches children the advantages and disadvantages of different types of energy,” the groups’ petition read. “But while the lessons do extol the advantages of coal, they fail to mention a single disadvantage. Nothing about the Appalachian mountains chopped down to get at coal seams. Nothing about the poisons released when coal is burned. Nothing about the fact that burning coal is the single biggest contributor to human-created greenhouse gases.”

Scholastic responded to the criticism by saying that despite the materials’ accuracy, they did not want the sponsorship to taint the Scholastic name.

“We acknowledge that the mere fact of sponsorship may call into question the authenticity of the information, and therefore conclude that we were not vigilant enough as to the effect of sponsorship in this instance,” Scholastic said in a statement. “We have no plans to further distribute this particular program. Because we have always been guided by our belief that we can do better, we are undertaking a thorough review of our policy and editorial procedures on sponsored content, and we will publish only those materials which are worthy of our reputation as ‘the most trusted name in learning.’”

While Scholastic is eliminating their “United States of Energy” they continue to promote global warming materials such as activist Laurie David (of “An Inconvenient Truth” fame) and Cambria Gordon’s book “The Down to Earth Guide to Global Warming.”

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