Ways to tell if a publisher can be trusted

10 Ways to Spot a Fly-By-Night Publisher

School district leaders have a lot on their shoulders. Their decisions affect so many members of a community – parents, faculty, teachers, and most importantly, children. Choosing a proper curriculum that will support your established vision and help carry out your mission is critical.

You can’t afford to risk your students’ education with a ‘fly-by-night’ start-up that may not be around tomorrow to support you or be there to fill multi-year orders. Because we want you to get the support you deserve whether you select our curriculum or another, we have compiled the top 10 ways to tell if a publisher can be trusted with your adoption dollars:

  1. No one in your district or neighboring districts has heard of them before.
  2. The company is less than five years old.
    • According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, 45% of new businesses fail during the first five years.
    • Some start-ups are born out of desperation since the founder does not work well with others. Such founders often struggle to build a lasting team.
  3. The company rarely appears in most common curriculum-related search engine results.
  4. The company is secretive about its number of employees, especially about the number of customer support agents.
  5. The company address is in a residential neighborhood or is a P.O. box.
  6. You can only find a cell number, not a searchable landline contact number.
  7. There is no customer service department or teacher advocate available via Google Meet or scheduled phone calls.
  8. The company cannot provide a historical list of at least 20 local customers.
  9. There is no dedicated full-time professional development team that will come to your district and provide training.
  10. You have never seen them at conferences or expos.

spending adoption money

Analyze Publisher’s LinkedIn Page

LinkedIn is a place of all truth when it comes to choosing an adoption curriculum partner. Scroll through the company overview and employee pages where you will be able to find essential information:

    • The number of employees
    • Employee expertise and years of experience
    • The number of customer support representatives, curriculum development specialists, regional/account managers, etc.

LinkedIn does a great job at presenting this data:

People tab:

LinkedIn data

Company employee experience and overview information:

Employee Experience on LinkedIn

Studies Weekly Company Overview

In addition, see whether there is any differentiation in content between their LinkedIn page and other social networks like Instagram. LinkedIn content must be geared toward a professional audience, so if there is no differentiated content, it means the entire marketing is run on the go by a CEO who also has to take the role of a Chief Marketing Officer and the rest of the C-suite.

All this information can paint a clear picture of where the company is headed and whether it has broad enough shoulders to support your district needs.

Is There Any Customer Support?

By looking at the LinkedIn data, you can determine whether a publisher has sufficient customer support. You cannot risk your district’s reputation with a start-up that has a handful of customer service representatives. Misunderstandings and conflicts can escalate quickly, and your teachers and administration would be left to deal with parent concerns and maintain a good public image. Such poor PR management can hurt your reputation by giving the impression that your district doesn’t take care of stakeholders.

At Studies Weekly, we know social studies can be controversial, and we are confident that our customer support team is always ready to assist the parents and other stakeholders to support you in instruction.

No Online Platform – A Road to Failure

A modern 21-st century publisher has to supplement printed materials with a robust online learning management system! The last two years of the global pandemic highlighted the importance of having a well-thought-out online platform at schools, even more, when the pandemic left most educators unprepared for remote instruction.

Studies Weekly was at the forefront of the education crisis, so it just felt right to offer Studies Weekly Online and our online publications free of charge for the 2020 and 2021 years to help fellow educators in our joint mission. There is simply no way around it – the world dictates that instruction needs to be flexible and offer a wide variety of content to engage students. That is why we still continue to offer a FREE 60-day trial to let teachers explore the benefits of going beyond the print in a cohesive and accessible way.

Studies Weekly Online

An excellent online platform must have the same content as in printed materials but on steroids. It needs to have tools to manage classrooms, grades, testing, and assignments. At Studies Weekly, we provide our entire range of award-winning curriculum in a digital format supplemented with hundreds of primary sources, videos, interviews, games, and NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards) interactive science experiments.

Keep in mind that the publisher needs to have an experienced IT department that will support your district should any outages occur and constantly infuse the platform with new features and updates. Without sufficient IT support, you risk spending adoption dollars on a tool that will bring more pains than learning gains.

Dedicated Support Page and Scalability

Questions arise and problems occur, so watch out for companies that don’t have a dedicated support page with:

  • FAQs
  • How-Tos
  • Video tutorials
  • Step-by-step instructions

SW warehouse

Last but not least, you don’t want to risk disrupting the beginning of your school year by discovering that your publications were flooded out when stored in someone’s basement or garage. Check whether your potential pick has a big enough production capacity, reliable logistics chain, and warehouse facilities. It is always a good idea to email a customer service department and ask them to provide proof of scalability.


We hope these tips will safeguard your district. Find out more about our social studies curriculum developed specifically for your state.

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