Monday, March 8, 2010

Text Books

Text books are fertile battlegrounds for the culture wars. Some might even suggest that they are America's culture wars' birthplace. How a science text presents Darwin ... how a history text refers to each of the opposing sides in the American Civil War ... or what context literature is discussed .... are all important issues when choosing a text book for a child's education. The most famous of these battles is probably the violence that occurred in Kanawha County, West Virginia in the early 70's. Kanawha was a very isolated community that was importing much of their teachers from other places in the country and the world. The choices of text books caused a huge chasm between the teachers/administrators and the parents and it got very much out of control.

California and Texas are the only two states that buy text books in a block as a state. Much of the country buys their books by county, supervisory union or even city or town. Because Texas and California buy in such bulk, they can dictate much in regards to content. Talk about culture wars, the difference between these two states, in regards to culture, is wide. With California's budget in turmoil, the Texas State Board of Education has an even bigger influence on this market now. Not that they are actively manipulating the decision making. But if a text book publisher has a choice between appeasing a huge customer and not ... changing a word or a chapter here and there may not be out of the question. This is just something to think about when junior takes his/her textbook home from school.

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