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Textbooks, Textbook Publishers, and the Quality of Schooling


by Ian Westbury — 1990

The textbooks of a school, a district, or a state approves or uses are often the only symbols of what schools at large do. As a result, almost all concern about the curriculum finds its focus in concern about the textbooks used and this, in turn, leads to discussion of the developers and distributors of those texts—authors and publishers. But one often unnoticed by-product of this form of argument is the assumption that the source of control of what schools do is not in the hands of teachers and communities but, rather, in the hands of an industry which, as I will emphasize here, is profit-seeking. However, as I will argue, while it is the case that textbook publishers are in practice the only "national" agency with a presence as large-scale, nationally directed curriculum developers, it is not clear that these publishers have either an effective capability for this work or the authority they would need do it effectively.


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This article originally appeared as NSSE Yearbook Vol 89, No. 1.


Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 91 Number 5, 1990, p. 1-22
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 18898, Date Accessed: 8/21/2017 12:02:04 PM

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About the Author
  • Ian Westbury
    University of Illinois
    E-mail Author
    IAN WESTBURY is a professor of Secondary Education and Curriculum Laboratory at the University of Illinois.
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