John Stossel has a story on errors found in new textbooks in Texas public schools (the word "we," for example, was misspelled).
One high school textbook misspelled the word "we." When describing an actor's "role" in a play, the book spells it "r-o-l-l."
A 9th grade literature book refers to a poem as a piece of 21st century literature, even though it was written in 1911 and the author died in 1933.
How do you misspell the word "we"? They spelled it, "wee."
The publishing companies said the textbooks were just first drafts that would be "cleaned up" before they make it into classrooms. But that doesn't wash with the TV station:
(P)ublishers said the same thing about math books... in 2007 that were eventually found to contain more than 100,000 mistakes...
Those math books are now in classrooms, and teachers continue to find errors.
Stossel is usually pretty quick to the jugular, but I think he misses the true reason for the screw-up. In a private market, suppliers must compete on price and performance because they know that companies will buy their product based on those criteria. In the government market, however, suppliers often can sidestep that whole product quality hassle and shortcut the process via political lobbying. Get a few key legislators or other government officials on your side, and that textbook order or military toilet seat contract is yours. Get John Murtha on your side, for example, and you can make money selling the government just about anything, or even nothing.
I think it's pretty clear that like defense contractors, municipal bond underwriters, and other government suppliers, textbooks suppliers have shifted resources from the product to political lobbying. Makes one pretty excited about prescription drug procurement under government health care, huh? Do we really want to see arguments for Viagra vs. Cialis played out on the house floor, as we do today for political footballs like the V-22 Osprey?