Monday, March 05, 2012

Just What I Need To Read, Knowing California Will Need New Math Textbooks In Order To Meet The Common Core Standards

This doesn't give me a warm fuzzy:
I have worked for over 20 years in educational publishing as a product developer, writer, and editor of curriculum materials for grades K-8. I’ve worked directly for textbook publishers and supplemental publishers (supplemental being those books that are adjuncts to the text), start-ups and large publishing houses. I’ve attended countless sales meetings, product meetings, and planning sessions, seen and taken part in the inner workings of a successful textbook from inception to completion. Over the course of my career, I’ve had the privilege of working with publishers dedicated to producing the best materials possible. Because of them, I was able to produce several successful reading, math, and assessment programs and make a darn good living doing it.

Best of all, I was able to feel proud of those books to which my name was attached. But there are no longer many projects that allow such a feeling to take hold. Why? Because the “new normal” among too many publishers is a severe lack of oversight in the quality of curriculum being produced, and a frightening prevalence of apathy to do anything about it.

The root of problem begins with this key fact: There are only a small number of educational publishers left after rabid buyouts and mergers in the 90s, publishers that all vie for a piece of a four-billion dollar (forbes.com) pie. In recent years, math has become the subject du jour due to government initiatives and efforts to raise the rankings of U.S. students who lag behind in math compared to 30 other industrialized nations. With state and local budgets constrained to unprecedented levels, publishers must compete for fewer available dollars. As a result, many are rushing their products (especially in math) to market to before their competitors, product that in many instances is inherently, tragically flawed.
Especially if you like horror movies, you want to read the whole thing.

4 comments:

Alf Tupper said...

I am not surprised at all. I have been appalled at the miserable quality of my daughter's textbooks. I have been collecting old Math and Physics textbooks from "junk piles" for years. Some of the Math textbooks I have from the 1960's are so much better (if a lot drier - no pretty pictures). I have used them to help my daughter with her Math and she now shares my disdain for the dumbed-down textbooks from school. Her Math teacher has even asked to borrow a few of my "antiquated" textbooks!

Jean said...

I think this is the most depressing article about textbooks I've read this year. It's just horrifying.

Math is one of our major reasons for homeschooling. Our district uses Everyday Math--or the teachers' selected supplements. I decided years ago that I would just *have* to homeschool through 8th grade whether I liked it or not (luckily I do) in order to give my kids a decent grounding in math.

I do prefer the boring, non-pretty pictures kind of math textbook. I find it hard to focus on the busy pages full of pictures. This turned out to be a good choice for my kids too, especially as my younger one has just been diagnosed with eye difficulties. Her math page is already hard enough for her to read, even though it has few distractions.

Darren said...

I think students should be insulted by the belief that they can or will pay attention only if there are lots of shiny objects to look at.

EdD said...

Math doesn't have a monopoly on shallow textbooks. Foreign (oops, I mean "Modern")language books are just as dismal. I used a 45 year old grammar for my main source when I was
teaching.