Dicta

The home of “things said” by the National Association of Scholars.

Authors Wanted

NAS

Textbook authors seek collaborators who have expertise in genetics, psychology, sociology, and anthropology.

Business (Ethics) as Usual

Jason Fertig

Textbooks tend to take a superficial and often anti-market approach.

The Terrible Textbooks of Freshman Comp

Mary Grabar

The anthologies used in many freshman composition courses tell students what to think, not how to write.

Marxist Justice and Western Civilization

William H. Young

William Young discusses the mainstreaming of Marxist ideas in the K-12 educational curriculum.

Disrupting the Textbook Machine

David Clemens

The higher education bubble was inflated by various pumps and gases:  expensive but useless degrees, an ideological straitjacket, grade inflation, administrative bloat, and proliferating programs, centers, and offices of enigmatic, malign, or Kafkaesque purpose. 

The Killing (and Queering) of History

Jonathan Bean

Over at The Beacon, I have a post on the latest requirement that Something Else must be taught in K-12 history textbooks. This time it is gay history but the real problem is the politicization of textbook content. Result: history is just "one damn thing after another."

Ask a Scholar: Why Are College Textbooks So Expensive?

Gilbert T. Sewall

What's driving up the cost of textbooks, and what are the cheaper alternatives?

Texas Hold `Em

David Clemens

Over at Pajamasmedia, “Zombie” is in the midst of a five part analysis of the Texas textbook battle.  In The Language Police (2004), Diane Ravitch argued that to avoid offending any conceivable sensibility, publishers produce absurd textbooks in which men cannot be depicted as larger than women, Asians cannot appear studious, and the elderly must not be ill or infirm.  In a word:  pablum.  Zombie, however, sees the Texas smackdown as a significant rebellion against the Left’s Gramscian “long march through the institutions” which has necessitated speech codes, historical revisionism, and dubious curriculum standards.  One recalls the noxious National Standards for U.S. and World History exposed by Lynne Cheney here and National Council of the Teachers of English “standards” that include expectations such as “Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes . . . .”  Oh, the rigor!  American education may wear the face of Alfred E. Neuman, but he has a globalist, multiculturalist, social justice lovin' grin. Zombie lambasts both Right and Left in the Texas shoot-out but he also notes that

. . . activists [once] denounced nationwide educational standards which prevented teachers from presenting `alternative’ facts and viewpoints. But now that the once-alternative progressive framework has become ascendent [sic] and dominates the education landscape, the left (or at least the Obama wing of the left) has flipped policies, and these days they insist on imposing nationwide educational standards to prevent any local schoolboards or states from sneaking off the political plantation and exposing students to conservative values.

Running through Friday; check it out.

Atlas Black Shrugs

Jason Fertig

The first comic book textbook combines management jargon and theories and packages them into a story about a slacker student's attempt to become an entrepreneur.

Billionaires Back Free Textbooks

Jonathan Bean

In 2009, I blogged on the budding movement for open-source and commercially free textbooks coming on the market. The latter vendors often hope to make money by charging for the printing of online texts. The movement has moved ahead sluggishly with little financial support. Enter two tech billionaires: the founders of Sun Microsystems--Scott McNealy and Vinod Khosia. They are devoting their philanthropy to replacing the $200 textbook with free alternatives AND getting these texts accredited by California and Texas, the two "gatekeepers" of the textbook publishing market (K-12). Look for rapid movement at the K-12 level and some progress in the college textbook market. Whether the textbook oligopoly can block competition with political influence is another matter. For more, see http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/01/technology/01ping.html?src=busln and http://www.curriki.org/xwiki/bin/view/Main/WebHome

Textbooks: The Feds Should Keep Out

George Leef

In today's Pope Center article, Professors Don Boudreaux and Roger Meiners write about the recent law that lets the federal camel get its nose under the textbook tent. The argue that the law will have little or no positive effect, but some unintended, negative effects.