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.