'Weekly Reader' to cease -- killed by testing fervor?
Weekly Reader was my first news magazine. It was where I learned the nickname for the Vice President is "Veep" and it is perhaps best known for its presidential poll of students, which proved uncannily accurate having been wrong only once since 1956. I always looked forward to the Friday afternoon break when our Weekly Reader arrived and we could read about current events or a science story. It's new owner, Scholastic (it used to be a Readers Digest property) confirmed this week that the current events magazine for kids will not be returning from summer vacation.
And guess what may have killed it? Tests like the FCAT.
Neal Goff, who was president of Weekly Reader from 2005 to 2010, told the New York Times that while it is tempting to see the close of Weekly Reader as another example of a shrinking print audience, he pointed to the focus on teaching to the test that has made anything other than math and reading extraneous. “There has been a general loss of teaching kids about current events,” he said. “That is something that has been squeezed out of the classroom.”
The truth may be a little of both. Scholastic purchased the school newspaper and now will fold it into Scholastic News, which means layoffs as Weekly Reader's 60 employees are whittled down to 5. So it's part media consolidation, part school budget cuts and priorities.
Considering that it's been a classroom staple since 1928, it was my parents' first news magazine too. So the loss of an multi-generational brand hurts. Scholastic will fold the publication into its own weekly magazine, Scholastic News; the first issues will be co-branded with both names.
“We are confident that the combined Scholastic News/Weekly Reader team will now offer an even better news and information experience in print and digital formats for teachers and students,” said a Scholastic spokeswoman told the New York Post.
--Sharon Kennedy Wynne
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