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Textbooks: Where's Arne When We Really Need Him?

Bryan-Standard Arne Duncan is everywhere -- in the health care bill, in the NCAA basketball tournament, etc. -- but notably AWOL on one of the most important education issues in the nation:  textbook adoption.  States like Texas are deciding the textbooks that get used nationwide for the next decade (Alarm over textbook changes) but not a word, not a proposal, not a peep from Obama's wonder boy.  Read here to get a sense of what it's like from the inside to write and write textbooks to go along with state demands -- a link Mike Smith kindly sent me from the Morning News.  How are schools supposed to get better if the materials they're using aren't any good?  What good are the promised high standards and better assessments going to be if the textbooks don't match them?  It's a messy issue, no doubt, and not a sexy or easily solved one, but a key part of the education puzzle and a missing element in Duncan's full-court education onslaught. 


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I agree with your concern. Textbooks provide a common denominator for our students because (hopefully) everyone in the class will have access to one even if they are not able to take them home because it's a class set.

Because I don't see the Dept. of Ed. really doing much about this issue, I believe the way to mitigate this is to have teachers who know their content well enough to enrich the textbook or even skip over parts of it. I know that enriching the text and not being tied to the book is something we push for, but with the increasing bias in textbooks it's more important than ever.

Textbook companies remind me of big oil. They are running things through legislation that wants every student to have a textbook. In FL, a district must adopt a state approved textbook within two (2) years of the subjects cycle year. There are some school districts not wanting to follow, but categorical dollars from the state must be used for printed material.(not purchase of online books or netbooks for students). Student engagement comes to mind in this instance. Students are involved in facebook, myspace, cell phones. These students are considered to be digital natives. This is their world. So, when they go into a classroom and sit without cooperative group projects, SMART board or technology use, or interaction with computers there is no relevance to them to learn the material.

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