The discussion on the TECSIG list serve has begun to echo some of the thoughts I have shared on here recently. The conversation began on the list serve when the Austin American Statesman posted an article titled “Should textbooks or technology be Texas’ spending priority?” The money quote for those that advocate on behalf of public education within the Texas legislature is this one:
A 19th-century concept of learning is holding back Texas from bringing school technology into the present, some legislators say.
State Representative Dan Branch, also a member of the House Public Education Committee, shared that he felt “A textbook is a vehicle for content. That vehicle is quickly becoming a horse and buggy.” Then the Statesman threw out this staggering statistic:
Since 1992, the state has allocated each year $30 per student for technology, which totals about $134 million in the current budget.
The bill for textbooks in the 2008-2009 budget was $496 million and will reach $913 million in the upcoming budget. Almost all of the $1.15 billion from the Permanent School Fund in the 2010-11 budget will be needed to pay for textbooks.
Why do we keep paying the textbook companies SO MUCH money when the things are virtually outdated almost immediately. Why do we not focus more attention within the curriculum and instruction side on how technology can help make the instructional process of delivering that content more efficient and timely. Well, here is a TED Talks video from Richard Baraniuk that takes this thought a bit further:
So maybe opensource textbooks are a little too far fetched for what we do in public schools, you know, with standards and all. Rice University has been doing it for awhile now, though. But what it does not curtail us from doing is being proactive and collaborating on resources that we KNOW are good for what we are doing in our classrooms. If we cannot count on the textbook companies to be forward thinking and designing a textbook system that allows us as teachers and students to have access to the most recent changes in our field of study, then we must as educators find, create, and share resources that will do that for us. It is called collaboration. It is called being proactive and affecting positive change.
With that in mind, Seth Godin posts this morning on the worst business mistake he ever made. He ignored the internet when it was in its early stages. He wrote books about it and even taught others how to utilize it, but he ignored it himself. He calls it simply his “biggest business mistake.” So why did he ignore it then? Consider his reflection:
Because the rules of this new business didn’t match the rules of my existing business. (emphasis his)
Just a reminder to Texas educators. The 81st Texas Legislature convenes in January. What are your plans to be a part of it?