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.