On the first week of school, we realized that there was a shortage of social studies, math, language arts and science textbooks, workbooks and assessment books for 4th grade. All praise be to Allah SWT last week 10 new social studies textbooks arrived, so students no longer needed to share textbooks during class. The SS teacher told me that even though the publisher is out of stock of the accompanying workbook, miraculously she found a free full-version download of the workbook online! As a result she is able to make copies and distribute them to students instead of creating new classwork and homework assignments on her own.
At public schools, textbook inventory is usually handled by a team of 4-5 people for the whole district. Because it requires a lot of time and effort to ensure ordering of textbooks are done timely and accurately, the team can take about 2-3 months to get the job done correct the new school year commences.
The article below is extracted from the web site Edutopia.org and it explains the process of textbook publication and selection.
A former schoolbook editor parses the politics of educational publishing.
I got a hint of things to come when I overheard my boss lamenting, "The books are done and we still don't have an author! I must sign someone today!"
Every time a friend with kids in school tells me textbooks are too generic, I think back to that moment. "Who writes these things?" people ask me. I have to tell them, without a hint of irony, "No one." It's symptomatic of the whole muddled mess that is the $4.3 billion textbook business.
Textbooks are a core part of the curriculum, as crucial to the teacher as a blueprint is to a carpenter, so one might assume they are conceived, researched, written, and published as unique contributions to advancing knowledge.
In fact, most of these books fall far short of their important role in the educational scheme of things. They are processed into existence using the pulp of what already exists, rising like swamp things from the compost of the past. The mulch is turned and tended by many layers of editors who scrub it of anything possibly objectionable before it is fed into a government-run "adoption" system that provides mediocre material to students of all ages.
Don't Mess with Texas
The big three adoption states are not equal, however. In that elite trio, Texas rules. California has more students (more than 6 million versus just over 4 million in Texas), but Texas spends just as much money (approximately $42 billion) on its public schools. More important, Texas allocates a dedicated chunk of funds specifically for textbooks. That money can't be used for anything else, and all of it must be spent in the adoption year.
Furthermore, Texas has particular power when it comes to high school textbooks, because California adopts statewide only for textbooks for grades K-8, while the Lone Star State's adoption process applies to textbooks through to 12th grade.
If you're creating a new textbook, therefore, you start by scrutinizing "Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills" (TEKS). This document is drawn up by a group of curriculum experts, teachers, and political insiders appointed by the 15 members of the Texas Board of Education, currently five Democrats and ten Republicans, about half of whom have a background in education. TEKS describes what Texas wants and what the entire nation will therefore get.
Texas is truly the tail that wags the dog. There is, however, a tail that wags this mighty tail. Every adoption state allows private citizens to review textbooks and raise objections. Publishers must respond to these objections at open hearings.
In the late '60s, a Texas couple, Mel and Norma Gabler, figured out how to use their state's adoption hearings to put pressure on textbook publishers. The Gablers had no academic credentials or teaching background, but they knew what they wanted taught -- phonics, sexual abstinence, free enterprise, creationism, and the primacy of Judeo-Christian values -- and considered themselves in a battle against a "politically correct degradation of academics."
Expert organizers, the Gablers possessed a flair for constructing arguments out of the language of official curriculum guidelines. The nonprofit corporation they founded 43 years ago, Educational Research Analysts, continues to review textbooks and lobby against liberal content in them.Read the rest here.