Teachers to Scholastic: Don’t Use Us to Market Toys, Make-up, and Brands to Children in School

"Stop enlisting teachers to sell toys, make-up, and brands to students through book clubs."

That's what more than 1,200 teachers said in a letter the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood sent to Scholastic, Inc., the world's largest educational publishing company. CCFC sent the letter, signed exclusively by teachers, after a review of Scholastic's 2008 elementary and middle school Book Club flyers found that one-third of the items for sale were either not books, like the M&M Kart Racing Wii videogame, or were books packaged with other products, such as lip gloss and jewelry.

"Anything that teachers hand out in the classroom carries their implicit endorsement," said Dr. Susan Linn, CCFC's Director. "Scholastic should not be exploiting teachers' influence with students to sell toys and trinkets or to promote media properties, like Hannah Montana and SpongeBob SquarePants, to children in schools." Signatures were collected online and at state and local meetings of the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

Last February, CCFC forwarded over 5,000 complaints from parents to Judy Newman, President of Scholastic Book Clubs. In response, she told The New York Times that the company works with teachers "to make sure that items are O.K. to put out in their classrooms." That over 1200 teachers signed on to CCFC's letter shows that many believe the proliferation of branded and non-book items marketed in the Book Clubs are not, in fact, "O.K." A number of teachers felt strongly enough to include personal comments highlighting their dissatisfaction with the commercialization of Scholastic's offerings.

CCFC plans to continue to track Scholastic Book club offerings. One of the more egregious recent findings was the Dairy Queen video game, DQ Tycoon, which appears in Scholastic's June 2009 Arrow flyer.