New Texas Education Law Could Help Render Board of Ed Culture Wars Obsolete

-Joseph_McCarthy.jpg
The State Board tried to save McCarthy's legacy, and this is how we treat them?
The jury's still out, but the fact fetishists at the Texas Freedom Network seem to think that the recently enacted Senate Bill 6 may help neuter the historically science-averse state Board of Education.

The law provides districts with state money for text books and tech devices like laptops and tablets. But the provision that has TFN buzzing is a line in the "Instructional Materials Allotment" section, which says the state money can be used to buy materials "regardless of whether the instructional materials are on the list adopted under Section 31.024."

Until now, school districts have been allowed to buy texts only off of the list of approved materials chosen by the State Board of Education, which has notoriously been guided by political and religious ideology rather than history and sound science.

Remember when they tried to write Thomas "Separation of Church and State" Jefferson out of history? Or the time they thought about referring to the slave trade by the toothless euphemism "Atlantic triangular trade?" And, you know, maybe Joseph McCarthy was on to something after all.

If anything, the new law dilutes some of the outsize textbook-buying power wielded by the state. Where, for example, you wouldn't find an iPad on the board's list of approved texts, now it doesn't matter. If anything, it could democratize the industry, allowing the use of open-source materials beyond the big publishers.

The unintended consequence, as TFN sees it, is that it could provide a check on the board. So If, in the future, it embarks on another sojourn into the mouth of madness, well, there are alternatives to pseudoscience and sanitized histories.

"It may potentially lend less clout to the adoption process," Dan Casey, a public school policy expert, told Unfair Park.

To be sure, districts will still have to find materials that adhere to the curriculum standards, but the new law may de-claw the board, if only a little.

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rain39
rain39

As an avid Kindle user, I know from experience that the publishers will set the prices almost as high as the textbooks cost now.  Between the cost of the e-textbooks and the e-pads and replacements, no money will be saved here.  Plus Texas can easily inject her own brand of learning here, like no evolution but add intelligent design.   I think this is a bad idea.

BCulbreath
BCulbreath

Thanks to author of Bill or person astute enough to add that small bit of language into bill.

MattL1
MattL1

While anything that diminishes the power of the Board is a good thing, I'm not sure putting individual districts in charge would be much better in certain parts of the state.

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

There is some inherient danger w/ that, but I think laying some sort of "framework" requirments is a good idea. When it comes to local districts, I believe that some have their childrens best interest at heart while others will promote their own agendas similar to whats going on at the state level. One thing is for sure: Every child in public school in this state needs an iPad or tablet device for their learning/homework, lets get rid of paper textbooks and tests once and for all...

ParleyPPratt
ParleyPPratt

In Keller, the fancy new high school with the ipads did the worst on the TAKS.

Montemalone
Montemalone

'Cause you can copy homework a lot easier digitally, and no handwriting to give it away.

We're gradually becoming a Wall-E society.

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

High school students can't keep up with homework assignments.  Exactly how do you propose funding 1, 2, 3 or 4 iPads for each student?  What happens when they lose it?  No more textbooks for the rest of the semester?  Parents whose children are on subsidized meals (over 70% of DISD) won't be able to pay replacement costs.

Nice idea, but so far off the deep end financially that it is laughable.

MattL1
MattL1

It makes a gasp followed by a scream.

MattL1
MattL1

Oh, of course.  There would be a great many other expenses as well.  Periodic software upgrades, network infrastructure improvements, etc., would all be associated with the switch.  

Also, as you pointed out, just because a textbook isn't printed doesn't mean it doesn't cost any money.  Someone, or a lot of highly-educated someones, has to write the thing.  All I'm trying to ascertain is whether the idea is as far-fetched as some would have me believe.  I'm not so sure it is.

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

It isn't just the cost of the iPad/tablet, it's also the cost of accessing the text.  Often the cost for on-line access is between $50-$100 (I'm basing this off of the costs encountered by parents with a child in a private HS).

I'm not opposed to tablets; I'm just weighing in about the cost.

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

Cost in volume for iPads apperantly is cheaper then spending on a bulk order of books right now. At present, its the textbook companies who are catching up w/ the demand..

MattL1
MattL1

It may not be doable, but just humor me here.  What is the per-student, per-year textbook cost in DISD?  If purchased in bulk, could tablets be had for roughly the same cost?  

Prices on those things will come down considerably in the coming years.  It may be more possible than you think.

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

Again, this would be a first step for Texas to actually enter the late 20th century in education....

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