School contests are money makers

Re: Fernie Academy students win in national writing competition on August 29


While I am sure the students mentioned in this news item are competent writers and deserve praise, parents should be aware that teachers regularly receive multitudes of these ‘so-called’ contests every year. Upon investigation you will find that these contests are primarily a marketing device through which the publisher obtains lists and lists of customers provided by unwitting parents and teachers. What wasn’t mentioned in your article is that Polar Expressions Publishing, located in Maple Ridge, BC, publishes up to 45 per cent of all submissions depending on the contest and the number of entries and they “give all a fair chance to get published and see how their work compares to their peers”. This company makes money by selling schools and parents anthologies of typical student poetry and prose, amongst which is their child’s poem or short story. They also sell their email and mailing lists. As a result, over the coming year participating schools and families will receive an array of junk mail and advertising flyers aimed at parents and children.

Acceptance into juried competitions sponsored by, for example, Columbia Basin Trust (Scratch Magazine), B.C. Teachers of English Language Arts Association or the Claremont Review come with no strings attached and the published student works are guaranteed to be of a very high quality.

It is disappointing to me that this is what passes for news in Fernie? Really? And an education strong on critical thinking and effective evaluation?  A badge, ribbon or cup for us all then!


Deirdre Way

Maple Ridge, BC