McGraw Hill: When Will They Learn?

In 2003, Diane Ravitch’s The Language Police chronicled the often ridiculous lengths that school textbook publishers resort to not to offend anyone. For example, according to some of the mandates, a dinosaur can’t be mentioned because this implies the theory of evolution. Further, no stories or pictures of a mother cooking dinner are allowed because this reinforces a stereotype. (Unsurprisingly, many of these ideas, which involve preposterous gender-neutral rephrasings of questions and promoting abstinence over contraception, were whipped up by McGraw-Hill. One professor, Sean G. Massey, was so furious that he initiated a boycott.)

As if publishing approaches to school textbooks wasn’t absurd enough, McGraw-Hill is now hoping to target children in Canada with ads placed within their textbooks. The Toronto Star reports that McGraw-Hill has been “quietly trying to coax companies into buying advertising space in their texts.”

McGraw-Hill has a history of doing this. In 1999, a McGraw-Hill mathematics textbook featured an equation asking students to figure out how much money they needed to save to buy a pair of Nikes. The outcry resulted in AB 116, banning commercial images in public school textbooks in California.

Hopefully, the Canadians might take a cue from this.