Interesting article on MSN.com about how textbooks get adopted. It claims that most textbook companies (I assume they are talking about elementary and high school textbooks) write their texts to appeal to the politicized school boards of California and Texas, the two biggest markets in the industry. Because of this, textbooks are light on analysis, present a skewed view of the importance of certain events, and a times make dubious claims to mollify critics. The consequence of this is that student learning is rarely at the center of the discussion about what to include in textbooks or which textbooks to adopt.
Given this situation, it is no wonder so many of my freshmen students come into the classroom thoroughly under-prepared. Some of them are determined to focus on trivial issues, most of them are anti-textbook, and many of them hate being made to think. They want to know what is the correct answer and just memorize that. This leaves me to spend the first half of the semester trying to break down their resistance to learning, before I can really begin to teach.