The Daily News Journal columnist Jim Leonhirth writes that while the dust still is settling in the revisions of Texas Board of Education curriculum standards, the real winner in the controversy may be obsolescence. Whatever the Texas textbooks say about political and social issues in future editions, Texas students should be able to walk a few steps to the Internet-linked computers in their classrooms, school computer center or school library; type a few appropriate keywords in a search engine; and find out more than they probably want to know about any political or social issue. Whether they will be able to evaluate properly the quality of the information they find online is another question, but the planned changes in the Texas curriculum may provide them with some practice in doing that.…Read More
ZDNet writer Dana Blankenhorn writes that Texas’s controversial decision to change its history curriculum has created an enormous opportunity for states, for communities, for publishers, and for authors to use open source and mass customization to transform education, just as those cost savings are most needed.
I didn’t intend to get into the Texas school board controversy. Personal reasons. After I left college I was a close friend of a guy who is now a member of that board, one of its most controversial. Back in 1978 David Bradley was drifting, but the woman he married around the time I knew him straightened him out. Last I saw him he was living in the mansion where the papers creating what later became Exxon were signed. But his latest silliness (only stupid kids believe the history they’re taught in high school) got me to thinking of the enormous opportunities there are for open source in education, starting in the area of textbooks. What lefty political types will tell you is that Texas’ school book standards are followed in lockstep by most other states, because Texas is such a large market and publishers don’t want to publish multiple books.What is really 1950 here is not the lesson plan, but the business model.
Historians are criticizing proposed revisions to the Texas social studies curriculum, saying that many of the changes are historically inaccurate and that they would affect textbooks and classrooms far beyond the state’s borders, reports the Washington Post. The changes, which were preliminarily approved last week by the Texas board of education and are expected to be given final approval in May, will reach deeply into Texas history classrooms, defining what textbooks must include and what teachers must cover. The curriculum downplays the role of Thomas Jefferson among the founding fathers, questions the separation of church and state, and says the U.S. government was infiltrated by Communists during the Cold War. Because the Texas textbook market is so large, books assigned to the state’s 4.7 million students often rocket to the top of the market, decreasing costs for other school districts and leading them to buy the same materials. “The books that are altered to fit the standards become the bestselling books, and therefore within the next two years they’ll end up in other classrooms,” said Fritz Fischer, chairman of the National Council for History Education, a group devoted to history teaching at the pre-college level. “It’s not a partisan issue, it’s a good history issue.”…Read More