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.
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