Textbooks, Technology, and Funding Revisited

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Why do we keep paying the textbook companies SO MUCH money when the things are virtually outdated almost immediately.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)

Does this correlate to ANYTHING we are doing in Texas education? Does it correlate to ANYTHING we are doing in TCEA? Does it correlate to ANYTHING you are doing in your classroom?

Just a reminder to Texas educators. The 81st Texas Legislature convenes in January. What are your plans to be a part of it?

2 thoughts on “Textbooks, Technology, and Funding Revisited

  1. Thanks for sharing Seth’s point…I have looked back to my youth and can’t believe some of the things I ignored that would have been great to know/have now. However, I refuse to indulge in regret keeping in mind, “I did the best I could under the circumstances.”

    Am I being too easy on myself?


    I don’t believe our professional organizations, though, have the same out. Why? While one person is fallible, flawed and limited, an organization–especially government or non-profit volunteer–can call upon a legion of individuals who can critique and create to improve the status quo. Failure to seize that workforce is a failure of leadership.


  2. I could not have said it better myself. Utilize the world you have around you for the best possible outcome. At least Seth blamed no one but himself. He was so immersed in what he was ignoring that he forgot he was a part of it. It is a lesson leaders should take into consideration.

    To be organization specific (sort of), special interest groups should have leaders who regularly report to the main organization and bring feedback and requests for assistance back to the group. To be a brain trust, you have to trust all of the brains.

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