Since joining Heinemann as its president two weeks ago, I have been listening closely to our employees, our authors, our customers and others. I am truly inspired by the passion I see in the colleagues I work with each day. At the same time, I am now painfully aware that Heinemann has disappointed cherished members of our own community.
With this in mind, I want to publicly address recent events related to the new Units of Study curriculum. As part of the pre-publication process, Heinemann and Teachers College Reading and Writing Project decided to review the Units of Study materials to understand if all teachers would be able to access them in light of new legislation in 30+ states. As part of this review, Heinemann implemented an inconsistent and highly flawed editing process that resulted in some problematic proposed changes to the draft materials. These proposed edits were made in error and did not reflect Heinemann’s values.
With the benefit of feedback from across the Heinemann community, I feel it’s important for me to address this situation in greater detail and provide an overview of how we are moving forward.
It is now clear to me that this improper review process and the resulting proposed changes caused pain and broke trust with people we deeply value—particularly people of color and LGBTQ+ authors whose skill and dedication to teachers sit at the very center of our mission. I want to apologize on behalf of all of Heinemann. I also want to acknowledge and thank those authors who courageously brought this unacceptable editorial process to our attention. We know we have work to do to rebuild trust.
A Path Forward
We are committed to demonstrating transformational change in how Heinemann moves forward in this moment.
Here’s what we have done so far:
Heinemann leadership stopped publication of the new Units of Study when they learned of the flawed process and the inappropriate proposed changes
We have put new Heinemann editorial leadership in place for Units of Study
We came together with Units of Study co-authors from Teachers College and HMH’s Content Equity, Inclusion and Diversity (CEID) team to craft a plan for the 2022 release of the new Units that ensures they will be aligned with instructional practices that are culturally responsive for all students
Here’s what we are doing currently:
In partnership with HMH’s CEID team, we are creating, and will make transparent, Heinemann’s new curricular guidelines for diversity, equity and inclusion. We will be posting these in a place where everyone can access them later this month. These guidelines will help shape our curriculum moving forward and all Heinemann editorial staff will be trained to ensure they are well-equipped to edit curriculum in a way that aligns with culturally responsive instructional practices
Together with Teachers College, we are reviewing all pages of the Units of Study for Reading and Writing, to ensure any edits made align with Heinemann’s new curriculum guidelines. We remain committed to publishing the new Units of Study in 2022
Under new company leadership, we are conducting a full review of Heinemann’s curriculum development practices and will be implementing a set of improvement measures based on our findings
Lastly, to my devoted Heinemann colleagues, although this disappointing situation does not define us, I believe it has the power to make us better. We will learn from this and will work hard to create change and to lead Heinemann forward in a way that supports the teachers and students to whom we are unwaveringly dedicated.
Together in teaching and learning,
Matthew Mugo Fields