This article was published in The Textbook Letter for January-February 2000.  It
accompanied a report on Pearson Education's "Open Book Publishing" sham.

Count 'em: Four hundred and six!

William J. Bennetta and Howard P. Lyon

During his 20/20 report about schoolbooks and the schoolbook industry, Sam Donaldson showed a copy of the 1995 version of Prentice Hall Exploring Physical Science to Anthea Maton -- the woman whose name led the list of "authors" shown on the book's title page. For Maton, looking at Prentice Hall Exploring Physical Science was a brand-new experience.

"I've never seen the book before," Maton told Donaldson. "Really, this is the first time I've ever seen it."

Maton can enjoy many more experiences like that one, if she wants to, because Prentice Hall has put her name on at least 406 books [see the note below]. The earliest titles are the ones that constitute the Prentice Hall Science series, which Prentice Hall introduced in 1992. The later titles include Prentice Hall Exploring Physical Science, Prentice Hall Exploring Earth Science and Prentice Hall Exploring Life Science. Each title has been issued in several successive versions that bear different copyright dates, and each of the successive versions exists in at least two basic forms (a student's edition and a teacher's edition), and both forms of the various versions have been modified to yield special books for special markets, and so on. Add them all up and you'll get a total of 406 books. Each has a unique ISBN, but all 406 are attributed to a team of six "authors" led by Anthea Maton.

Why has Prentice Hall used Maton's name so liberally and extensively? Because Maton once held a job with the National Science Teachers Association, and the job carried a splendid title: She was the "National Coordinator" of an NSTA curriculum project called Scope, Sequence & Coordination. What Prentice Hall has sought to exploit is not Anthea Maton's name per se -- it is her former affiliation with the NSTA, along with the implication that any science book written by a former functionary of the NSTA must be respectable and authoritative. In one Prentice Hall book after another, therefore, the first "author" shown on the title page is:

Anthea Maton
Former NSTA National Coordinator
Project Scope, Sequence, Coordination
Washington, DC

Maton left her NSTA job in 1991, and she has been affiliated with several enterprises since then. She now runs an operation called ArtScience Connections, in Oklahoma.

Prentice Hall's manipulations involving Anthea Maton were noted in an item that appeared in The Textbook Letter in 1997, and the item evoked a letter from Bill G. Aldridge, who had been the NSTA's executive director from January 1980 through September 1995. Aldridge's letter was printed in TTL for July-August 1997. Here it is again, in full:

Anthea Maton worked on the Scope, Sequence and Coordination project for middle grades, but only briefly. She had the title "national coordinator" because she distributed information and materials to various sites where SS&C work was in progress. Her job, supported by soft money, was specific to the SS&C project, and she never was a member of the NSTA's regular staff. After she left, the same job was held by several other people, and I guess that they also are "former national coordinators." In my opinion, Anthea Maton's former affiliation with the NSTA should not be cited as if it were a qualification for writing science textbooks.

Note      The number 406 comes from WorldCat, an on-line data-base of books catalogued by libraries throughout the world. On 9 October 1999, a search for "Anthea Maton" in WorldCat showed that Maton's name was associated, as principal author, with 406 Prentice Hall books.   [return to text]

William J. Bennetta is a professional editor, a fellow of the California Academy of Sciences, the president of The Textbook League, and the editor of The Textbook Letter. He writes often about the propagation of quackery, false "science" and false "history" in schoolbooks.

Howard P. Lyon, educated in music and in physics, is a professional violinist. Since 1994 he has analyzed various "science" textbooks published by Prentice Hall, and he has catalogued much of the erroneous material and pseudoscientific misinformation that those books contain. He also has investigated some of the claims that Prentice Hall has used in promoting the books to unwary educators. He lives and works in Erie, Pennsylvania.


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