Why Students Need Textbooks

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CSCOPE Shelves TextbooksDust Off Stored Textbooks and Let Students Use Them

Why Students Need Books

With textbooks, students as well as parents know what is to be learned.

The internet is being touted as the ultimate source of current information. I don’t question this. I use the internet daily for information. It takes time to research and check and recheck sources to make sure the information is correct and comprehensive. Students in elementary, middle and even high school lack the skills to discover all the materials they are to learn on the internet.

In every public school, students need textbooks. The legislature made a bad error in allowing school administrators to decide on how they must spend instruction money. In Texas, a large percent of the superintendents and other administrators have athletic certification. While they may have been the best coach ever, most have little understanding of teaching in a classroom. Thus, the attitude that textbooks are only used to answer the questions at the end of the chapter. Athletic coaches are great leaders, and in the past they were great superintendents. But now that superintendents and school board members (trained by the Texas Education Service Centers, ESCs) are taken over the job of purchasing curriculum materials for every classroom kinder through 12 textbooks are being described as outdated. Instead, internet programs are the new wave of today and the future. This is decribed as 21st century education. The lesson plans that veteran teachers have successfully used must align with lessons and scheduled the superintendents purchase. The Texas ESCs have sold Texas superintendents on the idea that the state instruction materials money would be better spend by buying the ESCs online products–21st century technology is what students need. The ESCs even promote the idea that textbooks not aligned with the revised state standards should not be used. Instead, the ESCs have the product that is needed. Before the Senate Education Committee Hearing on how bad the CSCOPE lessons are –the errors, the biased political content, even biased religious content, about 80% of the Texas school superintendents purchased CSCOPE lessons and many forced teachers to follow the CSCOPE schedule–written by people never identified not even to the senate. Since the majority of the administrative staff and evaluating board members are retired public school superintendents, any superintendent with plans for a future job with the ESCs is in a pickle. Either they do what is best for the education of their students or they sign up to transform their school districts using the ESC and Texas Administration Superintendent Associations guidelines. Texas Education has taken a nose dive in many schools. Some teachers, in spite of the administrators leading the school down the “transition” path, insist on using textbooks. Grudgingly books are dusted off and provided. Administrators never admit that the students of these teachers are doing well on the state tests. This is because in spite of Thomas Ratliff and others who loudly protest that there are too many TEKS, that the number of TEKS are miles long, Veteran teachers know that the STATE TEKS—the STATE STandards do not cover every concept that students need to know. This is especially true for science. The SCIENCE TEKS are the very LEAST that a student should be taught. The SCIENCE TEKS is like the content of a book, which has an entire chapter about topics. Science TEKS are science topics to be taught.

The ESCs promoted CSCOPE as being an instruction material that aligned with the science TEKS. I did not find this to always be true, but even if it were true–BIG DEAL! So CSCOPE instruction material purchased by superintendents presents materials so that students are provided a MINIMUM education in science. Yes, I have read the rebuttal from the ESCs stating that CSCOPE was never intended to be a comprehensive curriculum to replace textbooks. This statement was made after Texas public school districts abandoned textbooks for a guaranteed, comprehensive curriculum called CSCOPE. Even the State Comptroller gave written praises to the ESCs for providing such an inexpensive comprehensive K-12 curriculum.

The 20 ESCs even conned Senator Patrick into thinking that CSCOPE lessons were to be removed from Texas schools if he, Senator Patrick would help delay the outside evaluation of their books. Patrick helped to put off evaluation of the ESCs and the ESCs Made sure that schools using CSCOPE could continue to use the CSCOPE lessons. If the ESCs had not changed the contract so that schools could download all the CSCOPE lessons and use them forever, State Board of Education member, Ratliff said he would publish the lesson on line so schools in his district could have them.

So here we are with administrators who have copied the CSCOPE lessons, yet continue to pay the same amount to the ESCs for WHAT? School board members are suppose to represent the community, but most are trained to say “YES!” to what ever the superintendent ask for.  Parents, if you want to make changes in your school, run for the school board.

Now about textbooks.

Why should students spend hours researching topics when professionals have done this research and compiled it into textbooks that spiral in complexity from K-12.

But there is a bigger problem with only using the internet as the source of information, which is knowing if the information is relative to what is being studied in class.

For example, if students use the internet they might come up with the following definitions.

abundance-having plenty of what you need

trend-a tendency or inclination

period – time-frame; a length or era of time

 With a textbook, students would know that the previous information doesn’t relate to the study of the periodic table.

Students with a textbook would be spending quality time studying for the upcoming assessment over the Periodic Chart. Information such as the following:

Abundance is the amount of part of the whole; often expressed as the percentage of mass. For example:  The two most abundant elements in the Earth’s crust is Silicon and Oxygen. The abundance of Silicon is about 47% and Oxygen is 28%, thus together, Silicon and Oxygen make up about 75% of the materials in Earth’s crust.

Trend in reference to the periodic table is how the table can be used to compare physical and chemical characteristics of the elements on the periodic table. For example, elements with metallic properties are on the left and center of the table; nonmetallic elements are on the right with metalloids forming a zig-zag line that separate the metals and nonmetals.

So from left to right across a period (a row of elements) metallic properties are greatest on the left.

From top to bottom the trend of metallic properties is most at the bottom.


OUTDATED Science Textbooks 

Teachers are being mislead by the Texas Education Service Centers, ESCs, into thinking that outdated textbooks are not useful and that these textbooks could be misleading.

All textbooks can have errors. Teachers identify these and corrections are made in the next book revision. 

The 20 ESCs selling products, such as CSCOPE, promote that their online products can be revised quickly. While this could happen, it doesn’t happen—some errors in the CSCOPE lessons were identified year after year and they are still in the CSCOPE lessons that many Texas school districts copied and are being used by teachers. Online textbooks do not edit content every time an error is identified anymore than they do with books they print. The truth is that it is too expensive to make these changes, so they are made when content is revised to align with revisions in the Texas TEKS. Which is about every six years.

I can tell you that outdated science textbooks are very useful. It doesn’t matter if textbooks are “aligned” with TEKS for the TAKS tests or TEKS for the STAAR tests. The difference between these two sets of science standards did not result in revisions of the basic science content of the books. The science content of the books for TAKS are by far better than no textbook.

The 20 ESCs have promoted the idea that textbooks do not align with state standards in order to sell products, such as CSCOPE.  Thomas Ratliff, a member of the state board of education also promotes this idea. Mr. Ratliff is a paid lobbyists for Microscoft. Ratliff promotes programs that supports the use of the internet, thus promotes purchasing Microsoft products. If schools purchase printed textbooks less money will be spent on computer products and fewer ESCs products will be purchased.

Parents– insist on having textbooks for your children.

Teachers, insist on having textbooks for your students.




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  1. Tommy Longers says:

    I’m not convinced by this. Having read a lot of compelling arguments written by teachers as to how reducing textbook usage is proving beneficial to students, it’s hard for me to accept this view you put forward. The way I see it here, you are merely saying that either kids use standardized textbooks, or they rely entirely on the Internet. I’d like to know why anyone would attempt to present such a black and white view of learning? Removing the need for textbooks requires teachers to (initially at least) go through a process of collaborative planning with their colleagues to develop materials required to achieve the learning aims. I’ve seen the textbook-less school in action, and I have to say it’s miles better. You point out that kids don’t have the skills to properly research and identify the best information online….so teach them! What kind of policy is it to say “they don’t have those skills, so we should just forget about it.” Kids in the schools I’ve worked with are, in fact, quite adept at research skills, as well as interviewing skills, critical thinking, formal writing and more. Who are you to present these ideas as unreachable for students in any system? I have to say that this whole article reads like a highly presumptuous, defeatist, pessimistic and even quite offensive article that assumes nothing can be any other way than this simplistic view you put before our eyes.

    • Janice VanCleave says:

      If teachers were allowed to collaborate in all schools your arguments would be valid.
      If the Instruction Materials teachers are mandated to use, then your arguments would be valid.

      In 50 or more Texas school districts, Instruction Coaches were trained by Texas Education Service Centers to
      prevent teachers from collaborating and choosing the best methods and materials for their students. What is called
      collaboration is actually the Instruction Coach mandating what has been predetermined to be the best practices. The
      coach makes sure that there is one single lesson plan for all teachers ==such as 5th grade science. The teachers are
      not allowed to enrich the lesson plan. The Coach monitors daily to make sure that all the teachers are following the
      lesson plan to the letter. At least with a textbook, students have the opportunity to learn more on their own. Without the textbook
      students only learn what the Instruction Coach permits teachers to present.

    • to Tommy from a teacher says:

      Your post parrots the current brainwashing that we teachers are exposed to through the progressive teacher trainings The interesting thing about your post is that it is really all about you. It is about how you are going to collaborate with teachers. You are going to teach in this new style where students soar above textbooks like eagles in the wind. You, however, are not the student who arrives home with a backpack full of unrelated worksheets with no explanation. You are not the overwhelmed parent trying to help their child with no textbook as a resource. In no other country are students forced to try to learn without access to quality textbooks. I am a teacher who demands that my students use quality textbooks and their scores and achievement reflect their learning. You paint a rosy picture of the students you teach being adept at research skills. Really? Most students don’t have the critical thinking and discernment to navigate the web. Their idea of research is cut and paste off of Wikipedia. Our schools are largely failing. Our students need traditional instruction and good quality textbooks. What they don’t need is more fads in education and fantasy about how children learn.

  2. Gary Woods says:

    Spot on. Could not have said it better myself. 😉