I was at a science fair looking at a new publishing company's books. The material was inappropriate and would waste time. If the teacher was inexperienced she would fail and the students would get behavior problems!
The content was not the building blocks in the stages of development and reasoning. The material was colorful looking nice but once I started reading it there was no scope and sequence. A student would get frustrated because there was no building on already learned skills.
Years ago the fairs were government subsidized and they would give away many freebes. Now everything is about making money! The business minded are not about the students work they are about the producers work! This is disgusting!
Sorry to be so negative. I saw an add for an afterschool program and it had one child in a fancy costume showing nothing about community or advancement. At a June graduation ceremony none of the students went on the stage to get their congratulations. A small circle of people known to the principal went on the stage. All the parents were upset! Unbelievable the way the village has stopped raising the children and only raising their own household!
All textbooks are published by businesses. Many of them are truly terrible, but they always have been. I agree that many young teachers automatically assume that the textbook is their lifeline and savior, and don't question it. They should!
After reviewing the above posts, I reread the question. Text book publishers would like us to believe that a text is educational material. It isn't. A text can only be a summary of what someone thinks is relevant. It will always be one person's opinion about what is important. A true educator will always challenge the students to look beyond and incorporate educational material from all kinds of sources. As text books become more expensive to produce, they will be less availabe and this I believe will be a good thing. Reading is a good thing,but learning how to see with the mind's eye is the goal, not taking someone else's view as the only explanation. A business model looks to see how to make money on a goods or service that people will use. As the text book publishers increase the price of their product, teachers (those who are educators) will find other sources of material with which to convey their ideas to their students. Students who become deprived of the "authorized " text will learn other methods of validation and become better independent thinkers.
I'm currently working on a freelance project to update curriculum Christian Schools International, a publisher for Christian-school curriculum. Weirdly enough, the person who hired me told me and my partner that he has a hard time finding actual teachers to do this kind of work. In his experience, not many are willing to take on side-work while teaching.
I agree with the above posts, and also believe that the business of educational publishing is certainly more about money than anything. (Look at the price of college texts!) But from this experience, I wonder if the educational publishing world is simply in need of more experienced classroom teachers to work on updated curriculum.
This is why I create my own curriculum. I honestly find no relevance in the collection of material presented in mass produced text books collaborated on by the "business-minded people." I find that they tend to focus on things that do not speak to my students' needs. I have been teaching from novels and excerpts which have allowed me to focus, not only on the Core, but my students' engagement and abilities.
I agree that this is nothing new. What I find disturbing is the trend to "tailor" K-12 texts to the demands of the largest states, in particular Texas. Given the agenda of those who seek to promote religion in school or assure that a particular political point of view is promoted, combined with the publishers' interests in the economies of scale, what has been happening is that the books formulated to please Texas become the textbooks offered to the rest of the country. This gives us textbooks that include intelligent design, a downplaying of the horrors of slavery, and a Christian-based focus on history. I understand that history is viewed through many prisms, but I find it appalling that one agenda being catered to results in little or no choice for school districts, and I find it beyond appalling that any science textbook would include intelligent design.
Textbook publishing is a business, and at the moment it is a business in trouble. As computers proliferate and budgets shrink, I think that paper textbooks will become a thing of the past. One market that textbook publishers are starting to take notice of in the US is home schoolers. Making books colorful and pretty may be a publisher's way to try to attract that market segment.
I have to agree with #2, this is hardly a new development - textbook publishers have always been for-profit entities, and the states that dictate content probably have more influence over what is in textbooks than anything else. As for afterschool program, keep in mind that the advertising you saw was not directed at educators, but rather at parents who may feel guilty about having to put their children into such a program. Their view of the purpose of an afterschool program is probably very different from yours.
It seems to me that it's always been the business people who have dominated the publishing of educational resources, so I'm not sure that this is a new development. For example, when I was in graduate school in the early '90s, textbook publishers went from a 3-year cycle to a 2-year cycle for new editions of texts. This was ostensibly to stay current, but in my opinion was simply to make more money given how few changes I would see in the new editions of texts I tought/teach from.
So I'm not sure I'll blame business for the shortcomings of texts. I would think blame is better laid at the feet of the big states whose standards determine what has to go in the textbooks.