These are the education issues and trends I see impacting the publishing industry . They know it, we know it, our schools know it. Something needs to change. I am excited to hear what Apple and the publishing industry announce. I’m sure I will write more on the topic later:
- A text book costs around $200 a piece and weighs as much as a Volkswagon Bug. Each student needs 5-7 of these, at least, per year. They must store them and carry them. In the case of colleges, students must afford them. In the case of middle and high schools, the schools must.
- The content of the average text book is written for the state standards of Texas, California and New York. This both enlarges the books to cover multiple state standards and makes parts of the books unusable by 47 states whose standards are not covered.
- For the first time, investors are seeing education companies as a money-making play.
- Computers in K-12 primarily sit in a corner, mostly unused, but kids today are born with a mouse (or touch device) in their hands.
- School budgets are being decimated. We could argue about this one all day, whether it is overspending when times were good, too much administration, excessive assessment. It doesn’t matter. School budgets are decimated. And this is causing a complete re-prioritization about what public education mean.
- The ranks of those being educated outside of formal education is growing exponentially. When I started in education, around 2002, there was about one million home schooled kids. Last I saw numbers, around 2007, we were near two million. That has only grown in the past five years.
- The only class that requires a computer is high school math. Everyone carries a TI and they cost around $100. For $100 more, one can buy a Kindle Fire tablet computer or an iPod touch. If it wasn’t for the College Board propping up TI, their education division wouldn’t exist today.
- All of the money being pumped into education doesn’t seem to be making the situation any better. And we all agree that the key to US success is to have better schools.
- Everyone in print media has watched what happened to the newspaper industry and are deathly afraid of what happens next.
 A lot of people talk about education that don’t know shit. I know slightly more than shit because of my experience working with multiple facets of the industry for 6 years as I tried to make a living selling to K-12. It’s a massively complex market whose problems are massively complex. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
You touched on one point that I think is at the core of things. U.S. Public education is one of the worst in the world. It is using methods that are extremely dated and setting standards that, for the current world economy, are third world. That must change. It is why we send our 9 year old to private school, and even then, it is hard to find one that actually teaches as opposed to filling the head with useless facts.
We moved specifically to get into a very good public school. Yes, it all has to change. The way we look at public education as a country needs to change. (And it is not all of public school. It is pockets of public school that is the problem.) As the Apple video today says, We can’t keep teaching kids like it’s 1950.
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