I have been following the dialogue about this on different blogs. In general, people are feeling like this is a good thing, considering that the cost of textbooks is getting to be unaffordable, which is a situation that needs to be remedied ASAP. We can not keep treating this as, “We don’t worry about what it costs. We never look at the price when we go through the adoption process.” This attitude is what has gotten us to where we are. Of course cost matters. How can this mentality be allowed to continue? It is irresponsible and continues to contribute to the divide between who can afford to buy the books for their children and who cannot. Since we are not going to be sorting out our budget mess quickly, it is even more important that we look for alternatives.
Here is what people are saying about the announcement. Please keep in mind that the details of the announcement and how it will work are yet to come.
- “Textbooks are a surprisingly controversial issue in California and there is a lot of political baggage and bureaucratic red tape”
- “Individual changes to textbooks can become a source of fierce debate and there are a multitude of special interest groups battling over what the textbooks should say and how they should say it. It would take edit wars to a whole new level.”
- “How to keep the old system from penetrating the old (new) system – considering that there are a lot of lives depending on the old system – lobbyists, PR/Marketing, publishing houses…”
- “How to deal with pedagogy and topics – lecture based teaching vs. hands-on activity, predefined process of content exposure vs. student driven learning needs, problem-based learning vs. procedural-based learning, conceptual learning….”
- “Printing copies of the books. You can pay someone to write them but you still need to get copies into the students’ hands. Electronic distribution – aside from the initial cost; replacing lost/damages readers would be an ongoing cost and nightmare”
- “This will never happen as school administrators are extremely risk adverse. They will never be able to accept the risk that the reason their students didn’t do well is that the open source textbook they used didn’t meet the state/federal curriculum standards. The state/federal education agencies will also never certify that any textbook meets their curriculum standards.”
- Wow! As a teacher myself, I would love this! No more worrying about sharing texts, them getting lost. Why shouldn’t we have open access to all text books, I know that education is a business, but maybe, it shouldn’t be.
- great idea if it works…
- Yeah, let’s complain about modernizing school so that the public school system will fail to provide children with a decent education….
In general, the conversion is either this is great and about time or doubts about how this might work. This is a very healthy conversation as a new path is always full of the unknowns. And unless we embark upon it we will never know for sure how to take care of these doubts. As Paul Romer says “Crisis is a terrible thing to waste!’