The Book Barons of Texas

At the Austin American Statesmen, Kate Alexander reports that the Texas State Board of Education’s [SBOE] writing of textbook standards for the subject of social studies has became a debate over which names will be omitted because the standards are “too full” to begin with.

The teachers who had helped draft the revised standards over the past year had dropped many names because they said the standards were too full.

But the board disregarded much of that work, prompting board member Pat Hardy, R-Weatherford, to worry the board was “choking our kids with a list of names.”

But because the standards are “too full” even putting on good names can only be ineffective.  The standards must be made “less full” before names are added.

It is in the interest of the SBOE to keep saturating its textbook standards so that they are “too full,” rather than act as caretaker for the educational interests of the parents of students, because the SBOE is like any other mom-and-pop bureaucracy:  it must expand itself to justify its own existence by including, evaluating, proposing, and applying new and improved bloated standards.

Even if the stars aligned and fire came down from Heaven, and the SBOE actually provided “not-so-full” standards of only GREAT names in the subject of social studies, and parents and SBOE members and textbook publishers all shook hands, the impact it would have on students lives would less than petty.

“Choking” in Pat Hardy’s sense of the word seems to imply forced-feeding, or forced reading, both of which are really impossible in a public school setting.  Even when forced to read the best books, there is no guarantee that the student ever had any enthusiasm or a will to learn.  When it comes to reading textbooks, what is there to stop students from acquiring a “play to lose” strategy to end the reading assignment as quickly as possible so they can go do something they really care about? Because what students care about ain’t gonna have nothing to do with reading.


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