TO: Susan Ohanian
FROM: Joann Craig, McGraw-Hill.com
SRA/McGraw-Hill welcomes the opportunity to present the facts about Patricia Polacco’s scheduled appearances in SRA’s exhibit booth at IRA on May 2 and 3, 2006.
SRA/McGraw-Hill and Ms. Polacco signed a very clear contract, which can be viewed at
In the contract, signed by SRA on Jan. 10, 2006, and by Ms. Polacco on Feb. 8, 2006, Ms. Polacco agreed to be an SRA/McGraw-Hill exhibit booth speaker at four 30-minute presentations on two very specific topics: heroes who made a difference in her life and the real stories that inspired several of her books. In the two-page contract, SRA/McGraw-Hill was identified by name 14 times. She further agreed that her appearances at the SRA exhibit booth would be limited solely to these four presentations.*
Ms. Polacco chose not to honor her commitment to SRA/McGraw-Hill. Shortly before the event, she began insisting that she wanted to use her appearances as a platform for expressing her personal views on public education policy. We respect her right to express her ideas; however, since the SRA educational presentations were focused on writing and children’s books, SRA did not believe that its exhibit booth was an appropriate forum for a public policy speech. Ms. Polacco’s statements about this event are inaccurate and unreasonable.
SRA’s intention was to have Ms. Polacco deliver four presentations that would inspire the people who have the greatest impact on educating our children – classroom teachers.
*Actually, the contract stipulated a little more than this:
The speaker will not conduct any additional speech, personal appearance, interview, or other activity with any other exhibitor or publisher within the International Reading Association Convention except for SRA/McGraw-Hill.
It is true that Ms. Polacco signed this, for which she was to be paid $5,000 for four appearances spread out over two days, but it is certainly curious why SRA/McGraw-Hill would forbid an author to have any dealings with anybody else.
Some of you may be old enough to remember that old Tennessee Ernie Ford song, "Sixteen Tons," which topped the national charts in 1955 (though Merle Travis recorded it in 1946). Listen to excerpt
Saint Peter don't you call me cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company store.
memo to Ohanian