When you were handed a textbook in school, did you ever question what made it in- and what didn’t? Probably not. Did your parents look it over to see if it was giving you the correct version of history? Math? Or even biology? Could your teacher substitute a different book?
All of these ideas are not something most of us think about- even our educators don’t get much of a say. In a strange twist of geography and demographics coupled with national perceptions of California being a little too out there- most of the decisions on what goes into your text books comes from one state, the same one that gave us George W. Bush: Texas
The state’s $22 billion education fund is among the largest educational endowments in the country. Texas uses some of that money to buy or distribute a staggering 48 million textbooks annually — which rather strongly inclines educational publishers to tailor their products to fit the standards dictated by the Lone Star State. California is the largest textbook market, but besides being bankrupt, it tends to be so specific about what kinds of information its students should learn that few other states follow its lead. Texas, on the other hand, was one of the first states to adopt statewide curriculum guidelines, back in 1998, and the guidelines it came up with (which are referred to as TEKS — pronounced “teaks” — for Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills) were clear, broad and inclusive enough that many other states used them as a model in devising their own. And while technology is changing things, textbooks — printed or online —are still the backbone of education.
In fact, 15 lay people who are elected to the Texas State board of education somehow get to set the standards for most of the county. You really need to read the entire NYT article to understand how borked this whole process is.
If you think that’s whacked, you should enjoy today’s Dayton Grassroots Daily Show: (note: Greg did the titles- and misspelled “Ohioans”- or maybe it’s just a Texas drawl slipping in…