April 14, 2010

The Textbook Myth

The Texas Tribune posted a great article last week following up on the Texas SBoE brouhaha, outlining why ideologically-fueled edits to textbooks rarely have much effect on the actual curricula taught in schools and why Texas no longer “wags the textbook industry tail”. The concluding paragraph is a bit depressing, though:

But that’s the thing: Most history textbooks are not written by historians — self-respecting or otherwise. Foner’s book, a cohesive narrative researched and written by one scholar, is the exception. Most elementary and secondary texts are written by committees of a dozen or more writers, hired hands who don’t own their work and can’t object to any changes multiple publishing house editors make to appease whichever politicians or bureaucrats control the millions being spent. They are cooked quickly and to order, pressed together from hundreds of standards that reflect, in many ways, the lowest common denominator of thousands of opinions. They are, in short, the chicken nuggets of the literary world.

Can we get Jamie Oliver to tackle this educational malnourishment, too?