encouraging kids to have short attention spans
June 5, 2005
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I just read about one of the dumbest pieces of legislation I’ve ever heard of. A couple weeks back, the California Assembly voted to ban school districts from purchasing textbooks longer than 200 pages (link). It is being heralded as to “force publishers to condense key ideas, basic problems and basic knowledge into 200 pages, then to provide a rich appendix with Web sites where students can go for more information.” But I’m sure the more likely reason for this bill, as mentioned further down in the article, is that “it could reduce the cost…of textbooks”. Publishers of course are opposed to the bill saying it would force them to publish multiple volumes of the books in order to cover all of the state-mandated material. Not to mention, I’m sure, that publishing books specfically for California would raise prices due to the loss of economy of scale.
Way to go California. Sometimes you come up with very forward-thinking legislation, but then you go and do something idiotic like this. Just pick an arbitrary number and say all ideas should fit inside this space. Must have been a slow legilslative month, eh? The best quote from the story “don’t give students a predigested version of what U.S. history is, let them explore the Smithsonian and the Library of Congress”. Oh ok, I’m sure at least .001% of the students will go ahead and do just that.