Publishing Stimulus: Investing in Education

Galleycat had an interesting post today on Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and the company's faith that the Obama administration's investment in education will bolster its bottom line in the months to come.

This quote says it all:

"Given the stated objective of the incoming Obama administration of the importance of education to the US global competitiveness, we are hopeful that school districts will have the necessary funding available to ensure students have the appropriate instructional materials to use in the classroom and to take home."

I looked at this post not an hour after reading an article in today's Florida Times-Union. The T-U article, titled
"Books may help schools' budgets," outlines the legislature's plan to potentially allow cash-strapped districts to use textbook funds to pay bills in the current budget cycle.

That headline is misleading. In actuality, it means no new books for writing students.

"It is still a verb, so we haven't changed the language arts that radically," Broward County School Board member Maureen Dinen told a House education committee Tuesday (Patterson).

I'm torn on this one. I use Blackboard as an instructional platform in most of my classes. The software allows me to link, fairly liberally, to both grammar content (theory and exercises) and essays, short stories and current events. It's all I need.

That said, these are college students I'm working with. Many have a firm grasp of composition fundamentals. Those are the skills they learned in high school, the skills that are directly impacted by the use of solid textbook.

Part of me feels that the schools could go without the texts. Another part of me insists that they purchase them in an effort to better prepare their students for life after high school.

My wife works at Forrest High here in Jacksonville. The language arts curriculum in Duval County uses workbook-style texts, so they are certainly reliant on replacement materials for the coming school year.

I don't know that there's a clear resolution to this debate, but it surely underlines a truth about education in America: our kids are getting the shaft.

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