A Reader Writes… What Do You Really Think – Part 2

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In response to the 3/19/2013 post, What Do You Really Think,” a reader writes:

SC,

Who decided the state-adopted textbooks are not written to the standards? If that is the case, why did the state purchase them? Who makes that decision? There are some accountability issues that go beyond the scope of the local teacher.

SC Response Time for a little Education 101.

First, there really aren’t state adopted textbooks in the way that most people think. There are acceptable resources that districts can select.

Second, textbooks are written for mass consumption and then backwards engineered to show that they fit to the particular standards of the purchaser.  It is definitely buyer beware. 

Third, books are static; standards are dynamic.  What might have been 100% aligned five years ago, might only be 70% aligned today.

Next up, why were the books purchased in the first place? Habit, public demand, textbook lobby, a combination of these and other factors.  Pick one.  That is why curriculum and instructional experts are working daily to reduce the reliance on textbooks and increase the use of more dynamic (and increasingly cheaper) instructional resources.

Finally, you are right, this creates issues above the pay grade of the local teacher.  Which is why we advocate for teachers focusing their time and energy on becoming experts in the delivery of instruction (and just because a person spends 8 hours a day in the classroom does not automatically make them an expert).  The What and the When of instruction (scope and sequence and aligned resources) are built and selected by curriculum experts.  Teachers then execute the play, with increasing expertise. 

As a profession, a big problem that we deal with is that anyone who ever attended a school (everyone) fancies himself an expert on education. That holds about as much water as your drunken uncle, who played high school football, who believes that he can out coach Nick Sabin.  But we find it easy to ignore him because we all know that football is too important and too complicated to leave in the hands of misguided and misinformed.  

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A Reader Writes… A Drop in Scores – Part 1
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