Friday, November 20, 2015

Texas education officials reject allowing academics to check their school textbooks for accuracy.

Courtesy of ABC News:  

Top Texas education officials rejected Wednesday letting university experts fact-check textbooks approved for use in public-school classrooms statewide, instead reaffirming a vetting system that has helped spark years of ideological battles over how potentially thorny lessons in history and science are taught. 

Republican board member Thomas Ratliff had proposed bringing in academics to check textbooks only for factual errors, but his measure failed 8-7 after lengthy discussion.

"I know people are concerned about pointy-headed liberals in the ivory tower making our process different or worse," Ratliff, of Mount Pleasant, said before the vote. "But I hold our institutions of higher education in fairly high regard." 

Texas has 5.2 million public-school students, a large enough textbook market that publishers making modifications to meet its standards can affect material in other states. 

As it mulls books proposed for approval, the board relies on citizen review panels — often teachers, parents, business leaders or other experts — whose members are nominated by board members. Other Texans can also check the books on their own and identify what they see as errors in public testimony during board meetings. 

Ratliff had noted that some conservative board members have long stocked review panels with people more concerned with ideology than subject matter expertise. That gave rise to controversies over how textbooks handle climate change and evolution, or how they describe the influence biblical figures such as Moses had on America's Founding Fathers.

Apparently creating textbooks to dumb down the American people is now a Texas export.

Of course what can you expect from Texas?

After all that is where then Governor George W. Bush first started formulating what would one day be No Child Left Behind.

And literally NOTHING has damaged public education as thoroughly as that did.


  1. Anonymous9:00 AM

    No Child Left Behind left all children behind and brow beat their teachers senseless.

  2. Anonymous9:15 AM

    Thankfully, most people do not judge all Alaskans by what they think of Sarah Palin.

  3. A few clarifications.

    First, only Texas will be using these textbooks. They are Texas Editions. No other state is going to request them. (Well, maybe Alaska or Florida).

    Second. These books will be checked for accuracy not only by academics but by all of the state's history teachers. They may not have the power to designate which books are adopted as the state textbook, but they will certainly choose how to present the material. And you better believe in class teachers are going to be pointing out the inaccuracies in the textbook.

    Well, most. Can't speak for any rabid right wing evangelical history teachers.

    And since university professors know what the K-12 textbooks hold, first on their list of things to do is to enlighten their students as to the lies they've been taught and correct the facts involved. All of them.

    Still, it is a blatant dumbing down of an entire state population. Texas is a laughingstock. And it will only make it more difficult for any child educated in Texas to get a job outside the state. The minute an employer sees K-12 Texas public education they know what they're dealing with.

  4. Leland3:16 AM

    I'm sorry, miaiuppa, but Texas is NOT the only state who will use those books. For years now, the books Texas has are those other states will use. Since the books are printed in such large numbers, they are cheaper and a lot of the states can't really afford to require alterations.

    In the past, however, the religious screams coming from Texas weren't as strident or outlandish as they are now. MAYBE that will make changes for other states, but I won't hold my breath until it happens.

    1. That isn't how it works. Sorry, but the states can choose a regular edition, Texas edition, California edition. There may be another edition customized for a different state.

      But they are under no obligation to choose the Texas editions nor are they cheaper.

      All the editions will be of equal price. If anything the customized state editions may cost more.

      The reason Texas and California can request and get customized editions for the same price as the regular editions is because yes, they buy in such bulk. But that doesn't make them cheaper. Nor does it obligate any other state to choose the Texas edition unless they want it. They can just as easily order the California edition or the plain basic edition for the same money.

      Would you like to know more about the process of developing state adopted textbooks?

      It takes about 10 years from start to adoption. Surprising since most books are "plagarized" I mean, "researched" from previous editions. All those names of "authors"? They might have done some editing or made some contributions in bits and pieces but mostly the companies write them. So all those names may be from previous editions from which they've pulled their bits and pieces. These authors are not necessarily educators.

      There are only about three major companies that provide textbooks; Pearson, McGraw-Hill and Houghton-Mifflin Harcourt. Pearson is really big into the standardized testing. They sell the tests, then they make money scoring the tests.

      They provide the standardized tests (based on their own textbooks of course) for the states and NCLB/RttT testing.

      They provide lesson plans, workbooks, tutorials and remedials when students don't score high enough.

      It's pretty much a for profit monopoly. Educorporations. There is big money in it. Huge.

      By the time a textbook is approved for adoption it is already 10 years out of date.

      e-textbooks you ask? The difficulty with them is they would be approved in the same manner as print. I.E. you can't be constantly updating them with more current information because the entire adoption approval process would have to start all over again with the new updated "version".

      And it really doesn't cost that much to print a book. The cost of textbooks (anywhere from $45 - $175+) is for paying for copyright/royalty permission. The "authors" don't get much. It doesn't cost that much to print. It's the intellectual property that costs so much.

      Any other questions?


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