Saturday, April 25, 2009

The real problem with K-12 textbooks in the States is the Texas School Board

"Guiding curriculum for the next decade" because the Texas School Board thinks X? see first snippet below. Countries without the disadvantage of having to satisfy Texas are free to take different approaches. see second snippet below.

As long as textbook publishers have to create K -12 textbooks to satisfy Texas, it's going to be very hard for them to make the transition away from one size fits all education in print. They need textbooks to be reinvented more than any other player in the game.

Given the economics of the business, the only path I can see is to move away from the advantages of a protected market. The cost and risk have become greater than the benefits. Satisfying Texas is very time consuming and thus expensive. It has more to do with politics than with learning or education.

Meanwhile the exploding market for learning and education remains out of reach.

The technology is well defined. Customized print drawing from the over abundance of content from newspapers, non profit research organizations, government added to the textbook publishe's IP. The pressure for change is mainstream given the new administration in Washington. There are various business models that are appropriate to a facilitated user network economy. And pressure keeps building from educational users on the ground.

It's a perfect storm. The possibility is to miss the opportunity because the Texas School Board has to approve what is going to "guide curriculum and instruction for the next decade.
fromEducation Week:
Retooled Texas Standards Raise Unease Among Science Groups:
. . . The new document, given final approval March 27, is expected to guide curriculum and instruction for the next decade.
The document's reach, moreover, will likely extend far beyond Texas. The state’s academic standards guide textbook content, and publishers tend to write textbooks for other states to conform with Texas' expectations, because of that state’s large share of the market"
To give a sense of scale, Australia has 3.3 million K-12 students. New York City alone has over 1 M students managed by one municipal school board. If you consider New York State, my bet is that is more than 3.3 million. The invention advantage will go, for a time, to more manageable government structures around the world.

As mass customization comes on stream, it will come back to the States.

Australia: This country likely has more similarities with the United States than any other—school system structure, language, challenges serving disadvantaged students, equity issues, strong teachers’ unions, and national assessments in reading and math. And now, it is introducing a national curriculum.

Slovenia: Since gaining its independence in 1991, this part of the former Yugoslavia has made major strides to become one of the top performers on international exams in Europe.

South Korea: The East Asian nation ranks near the top on international mathematics and science exams.

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