Image: Screenshot via Scholastic
People were so outraged that Scholastic, the world's largest children's book publisher, was pushing coal in schools that the company has announced it will no longer do so, and that other corporate-sponsored projects at its InSchool marketing division will also be scaled back. But not all of them.
Change.org, which hosted an online petition, says that more than 57,000 supporters sent emails to Scholastic calling for an end to the curriculum, "The United States of Energy," and to corporate-sponsored education generally.
The New York Times reports the company will create a new review board to vet its materials:
"We have to improve our standards, and make sure there's not a scintilla of anything that could be suggested to be biased," said Richard Robinson, the president and chief executive of Scholastic. "The vast majority of our programs are not controversial, but once in a while there was a slip-up in editorial judgment."
The company said last week that it would make a partial retreat from corporate and industry-sponsored programs and lesson plans it distributes free to teachers. It has already withdrawn some of its most controversial programs. But others, including a lesson plan sponsored by the American Egg Board recommending the health benefits of eggs, are continuing.
The Times reports that programs sponsored by Disney, Nestlé and Shell have been removed from the Scholastic website, but the Egg Board-sponsored program will continue.
"All About Eggs" gives teachers a poster showing how eggs journey from farm to table, lesson plans revolving around eggs, and promotes the Good Egg Project, through which farmers contribute one egg to feed the hungry for each student who takes the pledge to "Eat Good. Do Good Every Day."
But there are plenty of downsides to the egg industry that children should know about if they're going to learn about the industrial food system. Ending some corporate-sponsored education is a start, but it shouldn't be seen as more than that.
Susan Linn, director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, told The Times, "It's important for children to learn about healthy eating, but not from people who have a vested interest in a particular food."
More on kids and coal:
Pushing Coal in Schools? Scholastic & American Coal Foundation Tag-Team to Teach Kids About Energy
Big Coal Turning Kids Into Pushers This Primary Season
Introducing Big Coal's Coloring Book for Kids