Educational Editorial: Textbook Accountability Act

By Dr. Bill Bosher, NBC12 Educational Specialist

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - With the General Assembly in town there will be some interesting, if not bizarre, proposals involving education.

Del. David Englin, an Alexandria Democrat, is pressing an issue that will likely find some merit. He is proposing a "Textbook Accountability Act."

Due to numerous errors, he would like to have materials "certified" by a panel of experts.  School divisions in Virginia do not have to select texts from a state approved list but may adopt any material that they judge to support the Standards of Learning.

Del. Englin's proposal provokes some interesting observations:

1) Let the free enterprise system work and require textbook companies to offer a warranty…it they "fail," refund your money…or new texts with corrections…not stickers to be placed over pages with mistakes.

2) The reality is that textbooks are not written for Virginia…they are focused on Texas, California, and New York…they want the markets with numbers.

3) Having met with publishers, they in general are most concerned about associated costs: turns in inventory and the number of samples required.

4) There also seems to be a forecast here about digital texts…they may not be more accurate but they are certainly more easily corrected…and not outdated by the time they are published.

It still amazes me that Shakespeare has not written anything recently but we seem to constantly throw away old versions and buy new ones.  Perhaps this discussion will also ignite a fire under the topic of how texts are used…we clearly know that there costs have become nearly prohibitive.

Copyright 2011 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.