10 March 2010

Texas textbooks tapering influence?

In the blogging I’ve been doing on the Texas K-12 science standards, one point that get repeatedly emphasized is that Texas influences textbooks outside the state, for many reasons.

That influence is declining, and may be ending, according to the Austin American-Statesman. Kate Alexander reports on how several factors have combined to weaken the likelihood that textbook publishers will be as attentive to Texas standards as in the past.

First, it’s the economy, stupid (emphasis added).

Bob Cassel... said publishers have tailored textbooks to Texas in the past because the state has been an enormous customer with a reliable source of textbook funding from the $22 billion Permanent School Fund.

Last year, no money was available from the school fund for textbooks because of significant investment losses, and legislators relied on federal stimulus money to pay for the books.

Second, people are waking up to limitations of print books (emphasis added).

Our entire purchasing philosophy right now is based on one thing, and that is the lifetime of a textbook binding,” Hochberg said.

That approach does not lend itself to providing students with the most up-to-date material, particularly in dynamic fields such as science and social studies, Hochberg said.

For example, elementary science books in Texas still say there are nine planets in the solar system even though Pluto lost full planet status in 2006.

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