Home > Uncategorized > Another Textbook Cycle Shuffle?

Another Textbook Cycle Shuffle?

November 25, 2013

A comment on one of my posts from last week got me thinking about the Oklahoma State Textbook Committee.  I’m glad it did; otherwise I might not have known that the committee was meeting tomorrow. Looking at the agenda, two items caught my attention:

9. Discussion on changing subject cycle
10. Vote on amending subject cycle

It seems we’ve altered the cycle already a couple of times in recent years. It is not clear from the agenda what it is we are changing this time, but something tells me it might be science. As it stands, the SDE still has not adopted new science standards. Until those are in place, it is impossible for the publishers to create materials that they claim are aligned to them.

Currently, most schools in Oklahoma use science books that are at least eight years old. They aren’t in good shape, and schools don’t have money to replace them. If nothing changes, districts will likely have to choose between purchasing new science or reading books in 2015. If science is pushed back another year, the textbooks will be 10 years old before they are replaced.

This creates uncertainty and sends reinforces the message that science is less important than other content areas. Given all the grandstanding about college and career readiness that we see in this state, it’s absolutely the wrong message. I don’t expect much publicity from the meeting, but hopefully, somewhere out there, somebody has more information on this.

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  1. November 25, 2013 at 6:43 pm

    Thank you for pointing this out. Science is probably one of the most ever-changing, applicable subject. Think back 8 years… (more like 9 or 10 if you consider when the books were published) imagine what what different in the world of science from today.
    And with the “emphasis” on STEM education in OK, this is embarrassing and frustrating.

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    • November 25, 2013 at 9:10 pm

      I am grateful for all the science educators in this state who keep fighting for standards that mean something. Unfortunately, that might be part of what is slowing us down.

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  2. Stephanie Ellis
    November 25, 2013 at 6:55 pm

    I can tell you for certain that the books our school got were out-of-date. Pluto had just been declared to be not a planet, and in our NEW books, it was called a planet.

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  3. Jane White
    November 25, 2013 at 8:15 pm

    I thought reading was up for adoption. My readers are 6 years old.

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    • November 25, 2013 at 9:12 pm

      The current cycle includes adoption of textbooks for the arts this fall (for use in the 2014-15 school year), reading/literature the following year (for use in the 2015-16 school year), and science the same year. Obviously, districts won’t be able to afford adopting reading and science materials at the same time. There would be time to squeeze it in for 2016-17, right before math the following year. Possibly.

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  4. November 25, 2013 at 8:28 pm

    I am a member of the Oklahoma Science Standards Writing Team that just submitted recommendations for science standards (based on Next Generation Science Standards) in August. They are undergoing review by the review committee and are supposed to be posted for public comment this month. We were told that textbooks could not be created until standards are adopted (hopefully in the spring), which means textbook adoption could not occur before 2015, as you suggested. I am also a biology teacher and find the delays frustrating, but not as frustrating as trying to draft science standards that have a chance of being approved by the current legislature. Note: It will be important for public comments to demand that evidence-based science be taught to Oklahoma students in order for them to be adequately prepared for university-level science programs.

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    • November 25, 2013 at 9:18 pm

      If I gave out awards for most informative comments ever on this blog, yours would be in the running. First, thank you for serving on the standards committees. We all know what you’re up against in that process. Even if SDE staff agree with you (and I can’t speak to that, either way) about the need for evidence-based science, Oklahoma politics will pose a problem. 2014 is an election year. This is going to be incredibly dicey.

      This puts an incredible burden on teachers. Quality science instruction is a combination of labs, research, and background. The need for up-to-date resources is critical. I feel like the state has failed us in this matter.

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      • jenni
        November 25, 2013 at 9:45 pm

        Boy, I’m sorry we’re so far apart on this issue – I’ve really enjoyed the majority of your posts. Unfortunately, it is this exact issue that is causing rifts among teachers and conservative parents – a very unfortunate situation in this current climate of education ‘reform’, where so many of us have overlapping concerns and we need to stick together to make our voices heard.

        That being said, I object in the noisy strenuous

        overlapping concerns

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      • November 25, 2013 at 9:56 pm

        Jenni,

        I’m a little surprised it’s taken us so long to be this far apart on an issue. I think opposition to the climate of ‘reform’ comes from all points of the political spectrum. I can live with that. Whatever our differences about the content, we both can agree that teachers shouldn’t have to wait 10 years between adoptions just because politicians lack the temerity to take positions and live with them.

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  5. jenni
    November 25, 2013 at 10:19 pm

    Ok, we’re going to try this again! Lesson learned – do not respond to a blog post from a phone!

    So, I was going to say that all that being said, I really object strenuously, not only to the tone of the comments regarding the science standards, but the ideas presented here on this issue as well.

    The comment to which you referred initially from Teacher 43 is really quite nasty in my view. If my child were in this teacher’s class, he/she would be removed. In fact, I’ve had teachers push this kind of view in my child’s classroom previously and that is one of the reasons I school my children at home now – a teacher pushing a point of view that is outside the world view of my family. But then I guess, as a parent, I’m to simply check my ideals at the door and allow this teacher to spout dogma to my child? This is where teachers lose my support. I can not, nor will I, stand in favor of a teacher who pushes unsubstantiated dogma in a public school classroom. This would include telling my child that we live in a Constitutional Democracy rather than a Republic as well – to be well-rounded in my complaint.

    I have a Master’s Degree in Science. I taught science in public school. I have a familiarity with the “Next Generation Science Standards”. I am a Christian. I am, in fact, one of the horrible ‘fundamentalists’ to whom Teacher 43 refers. You are absolutely completely incorrect to assert that either global warming or evolution are ‘evidence-based’ science. I’ve had a number of papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals, so I would have a clue as to what encompasses ‘evidence-based’ science. It wouldn’t even be so bad – since microevolution is evidence-based – if we left it at that, but to include Global Warming (an idea that has been debunked and shown to be junk science time and time again) in the science standards, as fact, is absolute malpractice of science teaching.

    Then, there’s the absolute fact that, including the Common Core literacy standards for science in the Science Standards will eat up almost half the actual science education that should be/could be imparted to students in each and every k-8 grade. I taught 7th grade science – granted, over a decade now – but when I went to look at the NGSS, I was horrified at the amount of stuff (including study of the Periodic Table) that was completely left out for that grade.

    A great amount of the revolt against Dr. Barresi and her heavy-handed, dismissive style – as well as the education ‘reforms’ being foisted onto classrooms and teachers and parents and students today, come from conservatives. The easiest way to loose their support, is to be just as dismissive and dogmatic as she about our ideals.

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  6. jenni
    November 25, 2013 at 10:23 pm

    okeducationtruths :
    Jenni,
    Whatever our differences about the content, we both can agree that teachers shouldn’t have to wait 10 years between adoptions just because politicians lack the temerity to take positions and live with them.

    True that.

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  7. Katie
    November 26, 2013 at 6:52 am

    I don’t understand the delay in adopting standards. Someone in the STEM department of SDE needs to get to work.

    Like

  8. Teacher 43
    November 26, 2013 at 10:21 am

    Today’s meeting should be to approve whatever art materials were bid for the ONLY adoption that took place this year. That should be the extent of the business that takes place on this agenda unless it is specifically listed on the agenda.

    The delay in adopting standards has everything to do with politics and nothing to do with the ability of the committee to write standards. Barresi and her minions will delay adopting science until the last possible moment because she doesn’t want to “offend” the only people who support her. Until SOME conservatives understand that they can’t inject real science with their religious mantra in the classroom, Oklahoma will continue to lag behind the rest of the world in science education.

    I refuse to engage those who want to argue science. I have long been a staunch supporter of the true science community which seeks to elevate real academics in the classroom.

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  9. November 26, 2013 at 11:53 am

    Have you looked at the list of “approved” books?

    The “approved” list for Math from a few years ago is over 100 pages long. I can guarantee that the majority of the books on the list will never appear in an OK school classroom. The Reading and Science lists are both over 200 pages long. I think the idea that the committee critiques and limits selections is inaccurate. In my experience with math (which is less controversial), the committee leaves the list and criteria as wide open as possible, allowing for districts to exercise local control, hopefully in the form of selection committees that involve teachers of all grade levels, admins, parents, as well as involving board members. Schools still have to use professional judgement and best practice to choose their texts.

    My biggest concern, looking at the adoption cycle, regardless of the standards that are chosen, is if schools are given the option of buying Reading material and/or science material, that science will be less than a priority, even if the standards are stellar.

    http://oktextbooks.ok.gov/textbook_pdf/mathk12.pdf

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    • Teacher 43
      November 26, 2013 at 12:41 pm

      Those two hundred pages consist of not only the material you purchase, but also the supplemental material and the free-with-order list.

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      • November 26, 2013 at 3:29 pm

        Very true, but still a lot of options. Speaking for Math, there has never been a book that my district or I was interested in that was not on the list. Most of the time, as long as a company can show some alignment (not necessarily good alignment) to the current standards, they make the list.
        I am not a science teacher and I know that controversy surrounds the standards themselves, which clearly seems to be a political game at this point.

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  10. Middle school teacher
    November 27, 2013 at 4:09 am

    I wonder how and when decisions will be made public. Continually rewriting your own curriculum is tiresome. Key words are continually and REwriting. I like the kids to be current, up to date, relevent… So many kids chew up science and engineering for breakfast. I wish I could give them a politically unrelated answer to why we don’t pull out the textbook very much other than my first thought which is, “There are so much better resources to the current standards I’m required to teach you, and have the information and skills you need to have to be successful in high school and relevant when you’re in college.”

    Like

  1. May 13, 2014 at 8:01 am
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