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  #1    
Old October 8th, 2013 (09:44 PM).
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"...mass participation in mainstream education is not sufficient to produce strong literacy and numeracy skills for life."


The education system is a fundamental part of our way of life. It prepares us with the first world skills we need to do first world business to bring back first world income. No matter whether you're a businessman, an artist, a teacher, a construction worker, or a salesperson, you are a more or less valuable cog in a productive and prosperous economy (compared to the rest of the world, not compared to ten years ago lol). It is largely due to the skills we acquire and the system that strives to make sure we acquire them, that we are able to enjoy the way of life we have today. However, it seems that certain countries are falling behind. Some of us may live in those countries.

What do you think of the state of your education system? We've had a thread about this generation of kids being out of control, do you think this has something to do with it? Do you think this affects the state of the economy and why so many people are out of work? How should we fix this, when a government is very deep in its deficits? Is this one of the few sectors in which the government should never (or as a last resort) cut spending? In addition to your consideration of the issue on a societal level, how's your personal experience/dissatisfaction with the education system?

Or maybe it's not so big of a deal? Perhaps it's less of an issue, or not quite as bad then we think it is.


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One in six people here struggle with literacy while one in four lack numeracy skills, according to a major study published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

It showed that across a 24-country ranking for these life skills, Ireland measured up as only average or below average in all categories.
...
It showed that 17.9 per cent of adults were at or below level one for literacy, compared to an average of 16.7 per cent. This placed Ireland at 15th of 24 countries, while across all levels we were still below the average at 17th of 24 countries.

Numeracy was also below average, with 25 per cent of Irish adults scoring at or below level one for numeracy compared to an average of about 20 per cent.

Japan was the only country with fewer than 10 per cent of adults at or below this level.

Literacy tests involved simple reading and comprehension tests, while uncomplicated numeracy examples were used to test this category. The problem solving in a technology-rich environment involved asking people, for example, to send an email to several people or to web browse.

The study showed 42 per cent of Irish adults scored at or below level one, comparable with Finland (39.9 per cent), Estonia (42.8 per cent) and Sweden (43.9 per cent). Japan again scored highest with only 27.3 per cent of adults at or below level one.
...
The survey “challenges how we think about skills”, said Inez Bailey, director of the National Adult Literacy Agency. “It provides compelling evidence that mass participation in mainstream education is not sufficient to produce strong literacy and numeracy skills for life.” Skills are developed through life and are not learned once during primary education, she said.

source: http://www.irishtimes.com/news/education/literacy-and-numeracy-among-irish-average-or-below-according-to-survey-1.1554207
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Old October 9th, 2013 (07:29 AM).
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I'm not even sure of all around California (but I'm sure it's the same thing), but the state-level education system here in CA is the absolute worst. My grade-school education started to dumb down as I moved back to the US after living in Mexico for a year. I wasn't satisfied that in Junior year of high school I began to take remedial classes instead of electives ONLY BECAUSE my counselor thinks I suck at math. Whereas in reality, I NEEDED to complete my college-prep courses so I could at least attend an intermediate level university.

But alas, I don't blame my counselor for not doing his job, but it's the education system that just keeps changing. But it's even worse in elementary school. Here in my area, tutoring sessions are eliminated completely because of the budget cuts proposed by the state government (when THE GOVERNATOR took over). I was told by a friend of mine who's an administrative clerk at my sister's old school that in all public schools in California, all they're teaching is basic standards only to help them pass the state exams given in late Spring. BS? Why yes. Because to be honest, that's not really education. Educators are not teaching these children the environment all around them. It's understandable that English and Math skills are vital and form a basis of their knowledge, but they also need to start exploring their career choices at around that age as well. We need science classes, we need social science/history classes, we need technology/computer classes, we need art & music classes. All of them, cut. Gone. And the only way to get those class was to pay an unreasonable price for a private class, and the only way to get tutoring was to pay $200 a week for a private tutor, and that's what my parents did for two years before they decided to move her to a private school this year, where they had a lot more to offer than public schools here.

I shake my head at the government right now because for over five years as a voter I've seen so many broken promises in terms of "fixing our education system". It didn't need any improvement. It was fine as is before all THAT happened with the economy. I've seen zero improvement. All they're focusing is high test scores, where in reality, these children are literally missing out in what's really important in education.
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Old October 9th, 2013 (08:24 AM).
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Our standardization of United States schools has caused a great decay in our education system because it forces all students to be able to perform at the same level, even though every student is different, learns at a different pace and level, and requires different materials and help in order to succeed. We penalize those that do not score high enough on standardized tests and expect that lower scores on these exams indicate lower intelligence, when really it does not measure intelligence at all. In this way, we stigmatize certain groups of people and make it exceptionally difficult for them to succeed in school and in the work force.

Teachers now center their curriculum around these standardized tests and thus the knowledge we acquire is very limited and shallow. We also penalize teachers for not having enough passing students and we bribe teachers into "dumbing" down their content to allow for higher grade averages. Instead of allowing students to learn at their own pace, fail when they rightfully deserve it, and pick themselves up and try again, we require that all students be exactly the same and work exactly the same. The current system allows for very little second chances, if at all—and thus many people are stuck in a rut, unable to get out of the hole that the education system has dug for them.

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Old October 9th, 2013 (08:51 AM).
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I agree that teachers in our public schools now seek mostly to have their students pass standardized tests. Even in high school right now I see it in my AP class, though not to quite the extreme. The entire goal for the year is to learn what we need to get a 3 or higher on the collage board test. Often we have skipped information in our text books, entire sections, for the simple reason that it will not be on the end of year AP test. The difference between getting ready for the AP test and the standardized tests is that the information on the AP test is more straight forwards and actually useful to know, unlike many standardized tests.

Also, it is a shame that so many other kinds of class that give enrichment to children's lives are cut as well. For those students who do not excel at the more scholarly parts of school such classes are the only reprieve from the strict form of their other classes. Most of this done cutting for the sake of saving money.

Also, I view school as getting children ready to live their lives. Which bothers me when all I see are teachers working towards getting their students ready for standardized tests. Taking a test does not give you all the preparation you need to live life to the fullest. All a test does is show you if you know something or don't. They have their place in education but passing a test should not be the end goal of the year. The goal should be much broader and more encompassing. It should be to learn and to grow, and such tests are only stunting the growth of children by making them conform to one way of doing things. Children, and all people, are vastly different and we should not constantly be trying to mold them into the same shape, because that will never work out in the end. These tests are like cookie cutters, slicing off the undesired through rigorous measures.
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Old October 9th, 2013 (12:01 PM).
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Similar to Megan, I went to school in California: kindergarten, elementary, high school, community college, and university. I even work in a school here. I'll try to be brief, though I'm sure I could write pages.

There are problems everywhere, but most of them come down to money. Not enough money to pay teachers or hire enough teachers. That means overcrowded classrooms, which means not enough one-on-one between teachers and students, not enough time for teachers to get to know students, and that can be a problem especially with younger kids who may not cope with the standard approach to school. You know, kids with learning disabilities or just a shy kid who doesn't engage with anyone and needs a teacher who can adjust the classroom to accommodate all the kids different learning styles. I know an elementary school teacher who says that she's had to buy her own paper to bring to school because they can't even afford to provide it to teachers.

The system here is good in some ways though. Community colleges are pretty plentiful and that helps give people a second shot at a 4-year college (I'm one of those) but sometimes it seems like false hope because some people should have received help much sooner try and can't really cope with higher education. I've seen people who have trouble doing fractions and rounding trying to get through community colleges that require them to have something beyond algebra, like statistics. That's, honestly, going to be impossible for some. I had some pretty good teachers in high school myself. Not all were good, but there were a few that did try to break out of the mold and teach us things they thought we should know. For an economics class (which all high school seniors had to take) he had a section where he taught how to do your taxes. (Useful!) A history teacher there also fought to get a class that taught about revolutions and other more radical parts of history instead of the boring names and dates kind.
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Old October 9th, 2013 (12:28 PM).
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Education system?
The U.S doesn't even really have one anymore. It has a hot mess that it calls an education system.

Personally, I blame the crap that they put in conventional food.
In a test, they removed all the junk food vending machines, soda machines, and switched the food in the cafeteria to organic, in a school with a very poor GPA, and high violence rate. Within a month, the grades went up, and the violence went down. [Already looked for a link, couldn't find one.]
Believe me, I'm not the type of person to generally preach about how amazing organic food is, but this does raise a good point.
We all know that school lunches are usually really, really, bad in the states. Things like GMOs, a proverbial cocktail of chemicals, and questionable meat is really not all that uncommon in them. The aforementioned test, and countless others prove that the diet does affect how students behave, and learn. So, the diet makes students do worse, the GPA is lowered to make kids and their parents think that they're doing better, and teachers certainly aren't helping any. This all adds up to a pathetic downward pirouette of the education system.

It's evolved to such a desturbing point, that the entire thing would need to be shut down and restructured to fix it.
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Old October 9th, 2013 (02:20 PM).
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This is what happens when you teach to the test, cough No Child Left Behind cough, ignoring actual important subject material that students need to succeed because you're strapped for cash and afriad the state will cut you out unless you adhere to a set curriculum. Throw in the widespread practice of cutting physical education, music and art, Advanced Placement, etc, classes as a result of budget cuts, and it's no wonder the school system as a whole and our test scores are where they are. Hint: it's in the gutter.
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Old October 9th, 2013 (05:26 PM).
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Okay, everything people NEED to learn in order to pass nowadays? Three months.

When I was in school, let us use the FCAT and AP systems... The limit people could learn to pass... half a year.

How long it would take to learn everything schools CAN offer: 3 years, and only then at maximum.

How long it would take to learn literally everything taught all the way through PhD level, but with all general subjects... 5 years.

Now, add that to focusing on mastering a single discipline? 1 year, unless you want to learn all main subjects, so let's say 5 years+.

^ That is honestly all it takes to learn everything educational systems have to offer. Now the internet, of course, has much more, but still...

The human brain is very underestimated. We can learn a discipline so fast it's no joke and do so at our leisure and it would only take a year, maybe two depending on how much the discipline covers (like Philosophy, History, Physics, Art - all kinds, etc).

Yet we are FORCED to learn things in which 95% or so of it we will never use, across 13+ years? And we are forced to start this when we're, quite honestly, INFANTS?

No... This is so, so very wrong. Burn the education systems of the world to the ground...to the ground...
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Old October 9th, 2013 (06:36 PM).
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The one thing I know, is that the education system is trying to force teachers to teach more, with less. I mean, it seems that (at least where I live) the graduation requirements are bumped up every couple of years. Because of that, colleges are now bumping up their requirements to get in. At this rate, hardly any kids will even graduate high school, let alone attend a university. I think we should lower the requirements for graduation. I had to get a couple classes waived in order to keep doing band all four years. I can hardly think where kids will have to drop out of their favorite classes because there's all this required stuff they have to do.

With all the budget cuts, it's even more stressful for the teachers. They don't get paid very well, so it's not like they can just go out and buy all the supplies they need. I just remember a couple years ago where people were pushing to extend the school in my state from 8 AM to 5 PM. I know this is the normal schedule for many other countries, but my argument is that we're putting too much pressure on our kids. I mean, they're kids, you can only push them so far until they break.
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Old October 9th, 2013 (08:10 PM).
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My mother is a teacher, so let me reply to you - Slayr - with this:

Nope.

In fact, graduation requirements have been LOWERED - which makes it easier for complete imbeciles to get into college. Those imbeciles then manage to get degrees...due to the fact that no actual learning is required, esp. with the fact that many professors GIVE YOU a "question sheet" right before the test with the same exact answers as the test...

And they are now teaching less, with more - requiring teachers to fit into their schedule exactly what they are told to do by the book all day every day makes it so that they never teach all of the curriculum, plus the things they are forced to teach the kids are NEVER on the test.
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Old October 9th, 2013 (08:52 PM).
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I'm sticking with my argument with the higher graduation requirement, and here's why. When I was a freshman in high school, the math requirement was that you passed at least Algebra 1. When I graduated, you had to pass at least Algebra 2, leaving several kids unable to graduate. At least in my state where I live, the graduation requirements are in fact rising every couple of years. The LA requirements are higher, and I think (although I'm not 100% sure, so don't hold me to this) that the government is trying to pass a bill that required students to take all four years of math and science, while also requiring two years of foreign languages.

I'm going to say that no professor I know actually gives the answers before the test. I've never had a teacher to do that in any of my classes and neither do any of my friends that I keep in touch with. However, a lot of my friends complain that the stuff they learn is never on the test, so I have to agree with you there.
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Old October 9th, 2013 (09:30 PM).
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That's an interesting one. Our teachers (Canadian, by the way) tell us what's going to be on the test/exam, which is consequently what they teach. Teach a unit, test a unit, learn the fundamental concepts, then do it all again on the final. As for university professors, they tell us what we /don't/ need to know when they bring it up in lecture.
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Old October 9th, 2013 (10:11 PM).
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I've heard the American Education System is horrible, and rating so many YouTube Comments, it looks like it's true (or it's just the people making the Comments who lack intelligence?).
I'm not saying Americans are dumb, or something, I know many Americans via Internet, and many of them are still smart, but they just lack knowledge about the world beyond North- and South-America, and lack proper Spelling (not talking about 'color vs colour', I'm talking about 'ur vs you're').

The Education System is pretty much different in NL.
At age 4 to 12, you go to the Elementary School, at the end of the road, you'll be tested on which Level of Education you belong to at the Secondary School.
For worst results, you'll go to the Practical School, LBO, or VMBO-BK.
For bad results, or if you come from a 'Special School', you'll go to MAVO.
For decent results, you'll go to HAVO.
For best results, you'll go to VWO.
Each Level has its own intenseness, its own (amount of) Subjects, and its own mentality.
For example, you will only get Greek/Latin at VWO, while French and German is easier on HAVO.
People on VWO go there for 6 years, people on HAVO go there for 5 years, and anything below that go there for 4 years.

After your Secondary School, it becomes even more complicated.
After Practical School, LBO, or VMBO-BK, you have to start at MBO-1 or MBO-2.
After MAVO, you can start on MBO-2, but you can also start on MBO-3, MBO-4, or HAVO.
After HAVO, you can start on HBO or VWO, but if you don't finish it, you can start on MBO-3 or MBO-4.
After VWO, you can start on WO, but if you don't finish it, you can start on HBO, MBO-3, or MBO-4.
MBO Certificates are barely worth anything these days, that's why people here mostly decide to advance to HBO after MBO-4.
Most companies only want you, if you have at least HBO or higher.
All MBO and HBO courses take 4 years, but in case you did one of these before, you can get big exceptions, but that's all for Full Time.
Part Time has no duration, it's all about Working Hours made + Exams done.

The average person getting their job here, is at least 23 years old, after 19 years of Education.
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Old October 9th, 2013 (11:29 PM).
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Wow, that sounds like it would work a lot better. I think the big problem in America, is that it's pretty much "one size fits all". There's almost no personalization of how various students learn, and even when we get to choose our own classes in high school and even college, a huge chunk is thrown at us as required classes. Limiting our space to explore other interests.
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Old October 10th, 2013 (03:46 AM).
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The US educational system is not degrading, it's not decaying, it's not falling apart at all. Really. It is not getting worse in any way. Actually, if anything, it's improved a lot over the course of the last 30 years. Most kids today are learning stuff we didn't even have the chance to learn in school. Calculus was considered very high math, you were lucky to even have it available before the 10th grade/year of school, now I read about elementary grades getting calculus taught there. Advanced technology classes are now common in schools, where when I was in school the only tech classes were basic computer use and those were all considered extracurricular and electives, the best computer my elementary school had for students was an Apple IIe, and there were 4 such computers for every 50 students.

What is wrong is that we are dragging our feet on education, while many other countries are pushing the limits and jumping ahead. The reason for this feet dragging, which is the same reason for third world countries dragging their feet as well, is superstition and delusion. Most of those in charge are superstitious and delusional, but this particular type of nonsense gets a free pass because of this notion that it's different than other superstitions or delusions.

Texas controls what curriculum is available to most of the country, because of their population publishers for school materials will cater to that state above all others. That state has a huge christian base, the majority there are seriously deluded, basically, and all very superstitious. Anything that challenges this delusion gets banned, unless there are federal laws preventing it, and thus don't get added to the textbooks for the rest of the country. It took a whole decade just to get them to include some higher scientific theories into the textbooks because of this.

So no, we are not seeing any form of decay or destruction of education, we are just not seeing a real improvement in it here. Yes, kids use slang a lot, but ... you have all used slang all the time, 90% of modern English, the "correct" English, is slang, that's the nature of language. Basically, while other societies are evolving, there are a lot of societies that resist it. That's the problem.
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Old October 12th, 2013 (02:04 AM).
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I know that in Hawaii, the national education score is pretty bad. They really teach to the test...No Child Left Behind... That being said, there have been a lot of improvements in the type of information that is being fed to the children. I think this is a combination of parental involvement in the school system and technology upgrades. Children are now able to search things up on their own and don't need to rely on a small group of adults--who can be biased--to gather information. This isn't to say that information gathered elsewhere is not, or as, biased, but the routes of study and learning have developed massively since I was in the public education system.
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Old October 12th, 2013 (04:37 AM).
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Quote originally posted by Lilikoi Juice:
I know that in Hawaii, the national education score is pretty bad. They really teach to the test...No Child Left Behind... That being said, there have been a lot of improvements in the type of information that is being fed to the children. I think this is a combination of parental involvement in the school system and technology upgrades. Children are now able to search things up on their own and don't need to rely on a small group of adults--who can be biased--to gather information. This isn't to say that information gathered elsewhere is not, or as, biased, but the routes of study and learning have developed massively since I was in the public education system.
Gotta love living in the future. Truly is the age of information still. The thing about the information being bias is largely countered by the sheer amount of it. If all you have is one biased source, you will have only biased information, but if you have a million sources with different biases, and a few without any, you are more likely to be able to figure out the truth of any matter. The law of averages is something our brains actually use almost reflexively. Ironically, it's also the same trait that creates stereotypes when personal experience is skewed.
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Old October 12th, 2013 (09:24 AM).
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While it's true that Texas does have too much say in what gets approved inn textbooks, a lot of their focus is in areas like history (like trying to remove mention of the slave trade) and biology (like trying to insert intelligent design or remove evolution). Theoretically they're not messing with subjects like English or Math. Not defending what they're doing, but they're just one part of the problem.

From my time in Japan, and seeing how their high school education system works, I have to say that it's an interesting way of doing things compared to the American system I'm used to. So it goes like this: School from 8 or 8:30 until at least 5:00. After classes you have club activities, which nearly everyone has because it's the expected thing to do. Kids clean their own classrooms and help plan events. Point is, they're involved in their school more than Americans are. I'm not saying it's better, but it does seem to create a different kind of student with a different mindset than the American system.
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Old October 12th, 2013 (09:45 AM).
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I'd imagine that the Japanese have a much more collectivist culture than this bastion of individuality that is America. I've heard the Germans have a lot of club activity too. But cheerleading's a thing in America, and that's cool

If Texas publishers manage to control the national content of textbooks, then I'd look into some kind of regulation that breaks up what seems to be a lack of competition. Or maybe less regulation - make it easier for school boards or schools to introduce the kind of textbooks that they would see fit to using. Hopefully the democracy of school-parent councils will shine through and the people will demand and find it easier to obtain the quality education they need. But perhaps I shouldn't be so optimistic. Who knows if the people have the drive and spirit within them to secure what they ought to have.

There's also a lot of talk locally (not sure about the United States) about the dumbing down of math. Apparently the education of numeracy isn't what it used to be. And I hear from my social science/humanities professors all the time that the students seem to be getting worse and worse every year in terms of their critical thinking skills. From this it appears that the decay of Mathematics and English teaching has been occurring - somewhat under the radar in comparison with the textbook controversy I guess - for some time.
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Old October 12th, 2013 (11:34 AM).
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Reading is SUPPOSED to teach Comprehension and Critical Thinking, which together generate common sense.

Mathematics is SUPPOSED to aid in pattern recognition - though that fails when your teachers don't bridge the maths like they are supposed to. Mental Math and Speed Math are meant to aid in Thinking Speed - not Critical Thinking. It's different.

Those that focus on the languages and arts often use art forms or symbolism for processing patterns. Unfortunately, there's no equivalent there for Thinking Speed just as there's no equivalent in Math/Science for Comprehension or Critical Thinking. After all, the scientific method only works properly when the user already has sufficient Reason - which is gained from other disciplines.

Just clarifying, Blah.
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Old October 12th, 2013 (04:05 PM).
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Esper Esper is offline
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Quote originally posted by BlahISuck:
If Texas publishers manage to control the national content of textbooks, then I'd look into some kind of regulation that breaks up what seems to be a lack of competition. Or maybe less regulation - make it easier for school boards or schools to introduce the kind of textbooks that they would see fit to using. Hopefully the democracy of school-parent councils will shine through and the people will demand and find it easier to obtain the quality education they need. But perhaps I shouldn't be so optimistic. Who knows if the people have the drive and spirit within them to secure what they ought to have.
I hate to sound like a one-trick-pony, but schools would probably need money to shop around for textbooks. I imagine the massed produced Texas originals are cheaper on the whole for a lot of people. I don't really know though.

And in this period of hyper-politicization everything is open to the accusation of bias so I imagine every school would fight over the curriculum and in small, rural, conservative towns you'd get books that most of the citizens of the town would want.
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Old October 12th, 2013 (04:46 PM).
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Kanzler Kanzler is offline
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Quote originally posted by Scarf:
I hate to sound like a one-trick-pony, but schools would probably need money to shop around for textbooks. I imagine the massed produced Texas originals are cheaper on the whole for a lot of people. I don't really know though.

And in this period of hyper-politicization everything is open to the accusation of bias so I imagine every school would fight over the curriculum and in small, rural, conservative towns you'd get books that most of the citizens of the town would want.
Ha, okay, let's just go with the breaking down of Texas publishers' grip on the market idea then. If they dominate the market, then prices are higher than what they should be, not lower. If anything, new innovations in education should come to light in the future. Hopefully open textbooks catches on and becomes an incentive for companies to reduce prices and hurt their profits. I'm not sure how, but something should be done about helping start-up textbook companies with lowering their start-up costs, which is prohibiting competition and leading to the situation we're talking about right now.

And if hyper-politicization is the name of the game, then only the people can be at fault. In that case I'd advocate for a greater role of academic organizations in the selection of the textbook and curriculum. This comes at a cost to democracy, but if all people are going to do is be biased then what's the point?
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