Off the Kuff Rotating Header Image

Turns out we’re not actually destroying the world one textbook at a time

Good to know.

Though Texas has been painted in scores of media reports as the big dog that wags the textbook industry tail, that’s simply no longer true — and will become even less true in the future, as technological advances and political shifts transform the marketplace, said Jay Diskey, executive director of the Association of American Publishers. Diskey calls the persistent reports of Texas dominating the market an “urban myth.” Yet the myth persists.

“I’ve been in this job about three and a half years, and I see it reported all the time,” Diskey said. “I give my explanation to reporters, and about half of them believe me and half of them don’t.”

Rather than tailoring history books to Texas, then trying to peddle them nationwide, publishers today will start with a core national narrative and edit to suit the sensitivities and curriculum standards of various states and districts, said David Anderson, an industry lobbyist, former publishing sales executive and Texas Education Agency curriculum director. The irony in the current history wars: The more the state board makes a political circus out of the process, the less likely any of its ideology will seep into books for other states, as the California backlash makes clear.

“The core narrative is very similar” nationally, Anderson said. “If you can customize a book for Texas, and un-customize it for the Midwest — and Texas is controversial — then that’s what you’re going to do.”

Well, I don’t know about you, but I feel better. Read the whole thing and you will, too. Martha has more.

Of course, even if we’re not polluting other states, and even if the textbooks themselves are more about what’s on the TEKS than what’s on the fevered minds of the SBOE wingnuts, we’re still stuck with the embarrassment of it all. But every political embarrassment is also a political opportunity, and to that end let me introduce you to the Thomas Jefferson Movement. I have no idea if that will catch on, but it’s a clever idea with an obvious hook. One can also take the more conventional approach of supporting a candidate for Governor who won’t put a crazy person in charge of the process, thus short-circuiting the lunacy before it can take hold. Both work for me.

Related Posts:

2 Comments

  1. Linkmeister says:

    That is indeed a relief, and educational as well. For umpty-ump years I’ve been told that Texas and California were the biggest influences on textbooks; glad to know it’s changed.

  2. […] Seems to me the obvious answer is to allow for a custom diploma for those who want it. I mean, if textbook publishers can handle special orders, so can whoever prints these things. My advice to the board of trustees […]