kitchen table math, the sequel: survey: who should choose textbooks?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

survey: who should choose textbooks?

This is interesting:

When asked who should have the final say on what textbooks are used in the classroom, 34% of Americans say teachers, but 24% say parents should have the final say. Fifteen percent (15%) prefer giving the final say on textbooks to local government. Nine percent (9%) each designate federal and state governments as the final word.

Among those with children in the schools, 28% say teachers should have the final decision on textbooks, but just 21% say that decision should be made by parents.

Sixty-one percent (61%) of all adults say parents, if they don’t approve of the textbooks selected by a school, should be allowed to transfer their child to another school that uses other textbooks. Twenty-seven percent (27%) disagree, and 12% are not sure.

But only 29% say that if all public schools in a district use textbooks that are unacceptable to parents, the district should make arrangements for those students to attend an acceptable private school. Fifty-three percent (53%) oppose that idea. Eighteen percent (18%) are undecided.

60% Say Their Kids Textbooks Place Political Correctness Above Accuracy


Only 28% of people with kids currently in the public schools believe teachers should choose the textbooks.

That is tiny.

I wonder how this question would poll if you asked how many adults think curriculum specialists lacking a degree in the subject matter under question should pick the textbooks .....

14 comments:

le radical galoisien said...

good teachers should get lots of autonomy...

Crimson Wife said...

I would have no problems with teachers and administrators (at the school level NOT the district level) picking textbooks IF parents had the freedom to choose the school their child attends.

I don't get to dictate to the grocery stores in my area that they have to sell my preferred brand. It's the manager's call not mine.

But I absolutely have the right to go shop at the store that carries the item I want and avoid the one that doesn't.

Anonymous said...

These are interesting statistics.

I homeschool and I have found that choosing textbooks is *not* an easy task. Sometimes a book that looks great, scans well, seems to be full of the right kinds of information and activities turns out to be a nightmare to teach from. Frankly, it usually takes me a good six months teaching from a particular book to really develop a useful opinion of it, enough of an opinion to be confident recommending a text for a district adoption, for example.

Maybe I just like doing things the hard way and I should hire a curriculum specialist to choose my resources for me.

Allison said...

But you left out the most depressing statistic from their poll.

--Fifty-five percent (55%) say the government does not spend enough money on public education.

Barry Garelick said...

It's one of those questions where I have to answer "It depends." I've met teachers (and so have others on KTM judging by comments) who think Investigations and EM are simply wonderful and they wished THEY had been taught math like this, etc, ad nauseum. I've met parents who have said the same thing. As far as schools picking the textbooks, well, that's what happened in my daughter's school. The District adopted a list of texts that could be used, and if you picked one of those, the District picked up the tab rather than the school. EM was one of the choices, but there were others that were fairly decent. The principal of the school selected EM.

The problem is the level of ed school thoughtworld has penetrated all levels of decision making. Newspaper articles reporting on the "math wars" hide behind their "balanced approach" of reporting and generally cast a favorable spin toward the inquiry based programs, and pay lip service to the dissenters, generally casting them in the light of curmudgeons and pains in the ass. Far easier to write a story that way, with the dissenters being presented as a "small vocal minority" than to go into any kind of meaningful detail--this despite (or because of) advice from experts such as Richard Colvin (former ed writer for LA Times who now teaches at Hechinger Institute for Education and the Media. Or Jay Mathews who has considerable readership, yet considers the math wars to be not worth reporting on because he views at as two groups of smart people calling each other names. Well, it's a concise description at any rate, and one he happens to be proud of.

concerned said...

All textbooks are not equal. Only subject matter experts would know the difference, and those are becoming fewer in the EdWorld.

If they were aware... How would parents feel about that?

SteveH said...

"Well, it's a concise description at any rate, and one he happens to be proud of."

Ignorance is bliss. It's quite amazing how little newspaper and other articles have progressed on the subject in the last ten years. Many still take the idea of balance at face value. Nobody wants to get into the details. They talk about critical thinking, but they don't know what it means or requires.

What do they teach in schools of journalism; that it's OK not to do your homework? Do they teach them to find two sides (the most vocal or easiest to find) and quote everyone as equals? Do they think this is enough? Do they assume that the answer is somewhere in the middle? Our state newpaper's education reporters view everything as some sort of conflict between the union and administration.

It's just one more indicator to me that education decisions need to be turned over to parents; if not the selection of curricula, the choice of schools. I don't see how a top-down solution is possible. We've been here before.

Independent George said...

What do they teach in schools of journalism

It's actually the same problem as with the curriculum specialists - journalism students study journalism, not math. So for an education story, they dutifully consult the experts... from Columbia Teacher's College. And since the experts are all in agreement that we're a bunch of cranks, well by gosh, that's how we're depicted in the papers.

owen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
owen said...

i wasn't allowed to choose textbooks
as a *college professor*... in a small department.
and this is quite typical.
if your name isn't "mc graw-hill"
around here, it might as well be "mud".
who *cares* who *should* do it?
big money *does* it... and nobody's
going to stop 'em.

oh, but i think the bell
we put on the cat should
sound an "A" note to
incent our students to
like carrots.

oh, but i think the bell
we put on the cat should
sound an "F" note to
incent our students to
fear sticks.

but our experts say your experts
are a bunch of ivory tower elitists.

vlorbik a million miles away:
*i* think we should encourage
actual living humans not to
take lies seriously if they can
get out of it somehow.

owen said...

ps: surveys?
feed not honest debate
but family feuds.

lgm said...

I don't have a problem with who picks the text; I have a problem who picks the content included in the text. Most of the newer math texts my district uses are so incomplete in explanations compared to the Space Era texts that they are jokes. The problem sets are just exercises, not problems that make a child think. A student cannot make up for a poor teacher by using these texts.

I suspect this is to increase the market in review books, as the review books (at least for NY Regents exams) do contain the explanations.

We bought an old Dolciani and an old Foerster to make up for poor and/or missing instruction in my kid's Int. Alg. I class. The Dolciani is for the symbolic and graphical explanations that the district chooses to omit and their text choice does poorly; the Foerster is for expansion on the verbal explanation that is given in class.

Catherine Johnson said...

Owen - HI!

Catherine Johnson said...

I am trying to sell the idea around these parts that:

IF A REAL MATHEMATICIAN WOULD NOT USE THIS BOOK WITH HIS CHILDREN, WE SHOULD NOT USE IT WITH OURS.

Basically: fine, let the teachers choose, but rule out the books mathematicians rule out.

Take 'em off the table.

Also - one can dream - possibly choose the FIELD-TESTED TEXTBOOK OVER THE GOOFY EXPERIMENTAL FUZZY TEXTBOOK.