Textbooks…throw them out (I mean recycle them)

I just finished reading an article by Alex Johnson on MSNBC.com called "A Textbook case of failure: Politically driven adoption system yields shallow, misleading materials" from May 16th, 2006. The article discusses the "scandalously bad textbooks" Americans students are using in our K12 classrooms. Some quotes from the article:

"But glaring in [NCLB's] omission from the program is any siginifcant examination of the most basic of classroom tools, the textbook."

"few if any textbooks are ever subjected ti independent field testing of whether they actually help students learn."

"As younger, inexperienced teachers are thrown into classrooms to meet new federal standards, as much as 90 percent (my emphasis added) of the burden of instruction rests on textbooks"

"AMerican textbooks are both grotesquely bloated and light as a feather intellectually, flitting briefly over too many topics without examining anf of them in detail."

Diane Ravitch – "[Textbooks] are sanitized to avoid offending anyone who might complain at textbook adoption hearings in big states"

"the politics of the boards adopting the books in Texas and California shape what is, to all intent and purposes, a defacto national curriculum"


We got rid of all or almost all textbooks in the K12 environment and provided professional teachers with a budget to purchase materials they wanted for their curriculum and we provided time to collaborate with colleagues and access to Internet/Web resources to "roll your own"???


Throw out the textbooks (or even better, send them back to be purchased in the pre-owned textbook market and use the funds for…)

Have teachers develop their own materials during PD and collaboratively

Provide funds for some books (that students keep), web resources, pdf's, student personal libraries, etc

Use current textbook funds to support new materials (research how much last year, avg. 10 years???)

Work with current text book companies as they move online to personalize content

Teach teachers and administrators during college how to make their own materials


"School officials, however, cannot or will not devote sufficient amounts of money to copyrighted materials. Public schools were spending around $275 billion dollars total in the 1993-1994 school year, and approximately $209 billion if one excluded pupil transportation, capital outlays, debt service, and expenditures for adult education or community service. According to Market Data Retrieval of Shelton, Connecticut, a service used by textbook publishers and other K-12-related vendors, just $1.727 billion went for textbooks. Spending on other copyrighted works amounted to $3.677 billion, bringing the total to about $5.404 billion, or about 2.6 percent of the $209 billion. With a total of 43,637,734 students in public schools, the $5.404 billion would be just $124 per student in the 1993-1994 school year. Another market research service, Quality Education Data of Denver, Colorado, reported that schools were spending some $22.50 per student on educational software in 1993-1994."


3 Responses to “Textbooks…throw them out (I mean recycle them)”

  1. randolph Says:

    I love this site. Good work…

  2. Wiki created student/teacher texts « A Blog by Clint Says:

    […] In May of 2006 I wrote a blog post which discussed the sad state of textbooks in public education. Today I am going to try to get down some of my ideas on how to fix this issue. […]

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