Climate Change Missing from Scholastic News

Scholastic News’ coverage of Hurricane Harvey says that the storm has acted “strangely,” but doesn’t mention even one word about climate change nor the extensive unregulated development that have contributed to the devastating crisis in Houston. Tell Scholastic our children deserve to know the truth about the weather as part of the #StepUpScholastic campaign. Also missing from the story are any references to the impact of immigration status, racism, and poverty on people’s options for safety and support during the storm and recovery. While we contribute to help the people of Houston (and now the Caribbean and Florida — and other parts of the world] who face this terrible tragedy, we can also contribute to a critical understanding of the crisis so that this does not become the new norm.

For more accurate coverage, see Democracy Now! For more accurate teaching resources, visit the Zinn Education Project.

Update: Scholastic wrote on September 6, 2017 to ask that we “stop this campaign” because their magazines and books provide information on climate change. They included links to news stories and books, indicating that there are more stories in their magazine content which is behind their pay wall.

Our executive director responded,

I appreciate your taking the time to respond and I am glad that readers have been contacting Scholastic.

I have re-read the Scholastic News article and still see no reference to climate change nor unregulated development. As you know, neither of those factors caused the hurricane, but they had a direct and profound impact on the scope of the tragedy.

We need a generation of young people who understand what is causing the climate crises and can be in a position to protect their future. Given the wildfires on the west coast, the drought in the Midwest, and the floods in Texas (and the Caribbean, Asia, and Africa) it would be an understatement to say that the matter is urgent.

I appreciate that Scholastic has published books on climate change. That is why it is all the more important that young readers learn from Scholastic News that current events are impacted by climate change and become motivated to read your books and others to learn more. For the young people living in communities where politicians and the mainstream media still deny climate change, getting an accurate narrative from Scholastic News is all the more important.

I also hope that the Scholastic News stories on the devastation of Hurricane Irma (and those that follow) include the causes, not just the impact and rescue efforts.

It is heartening to know that the letters to Scholastic about their coverage of Hurricane Harvey are getting attention. It is a good reminder that advocacy works. Please encourage your students to monitor media coverage of all the types of extreme weather we are experiencing — floods, fires, and droughts. If their local or national media is not addressing the factors that are causing the weather or its impact to be extreme, have them write or call. Our future literally depends on understanding and addressing this climate crisis.


Here is another example of how demanding the truth about climate change in the media or curriculum can make a difference. In 2011, Rethinking Schools exposed a partnership between the American Coal Federation and Scholastic that resulted in widely distributed educational materials that described the benefits of coal without any reference to the dangers. As a result of a campaign led by the Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC), Rethinking Schools, Friends of the Earth (FoE), Greenpeace USA, and the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), Scholastic stopped distributing “The United States of Energy” and the materials were also removed from Scholastic’s website.