To the Editor:
I read with interest Gilbert T. Sewall’s Commentary “Digital Textbooks: They’re Coming—But Will They Be Better?” in your April 7, 2010, issue, but was dismayed to see that the director of the American Textbook Council listed Scholastic along with several other publishers as a financially challenged publisher of textbooks. Scholastic is neither financially challenged nor are we a publisher of core textbooks.
More than a decade ago, the Scholastic Education team stopped publishing textbooks and led the way in developing digital instructional programs focused on reading and math intervention. In 1998, we launched our flagship education technology program, READ 180®, which is now in use in more than 18,000 schools nationwide, and has helped more than a million struggling students learn to read.
Over the years, READ 180 has been joined by System 44™, our breakthrough foundational reading program; Expert 21™, our digital language-arts curriculum; FASTT Math™ and Fraction Nation™; and a suite of other technology-based programs that not only engage today’s students, but also individualize instruction and provide educators with valuable data and analysis to ensure student success. We continue to support thousands of districts with services and professional development to implement these new programs. The effectiveness of our programs and services has been noted by numerous research entities, including the What Works Clearinghouse.
As for Mr. Sewall’s misguided comments about our financial performance, a little more research on his part would have shown him that Scholastic Education has grown our technology-related revenue more than 50 percent this school year. And, as a result, our technology sales now make up a majority of our sales to educational institutions.
Much of what Mr. Sewall writes makes sense, but he misses the bigger point. The promise of technology for America’s schools goes far beyond simply digitizing textbooks.
New York, N.Y.
A version of this article appeared in the April 28, 2010 edition of Education Week as Scholastic Takes Issue With ‘Digital Textbooks’