Corrected: An editing mistake in this letter resulted in the misspelling of the word “grammar.” Since Ms. Cook is a teacher of English grammar, as well as the author of a forthcoming book on the subject, we doubly regret the error.
To the Editor:
I was impressed and overjoyed when I read Frank Wang’s reflections on his decade spent in educational publishing (“Do Away With State Textbook Adoptions,” Commentary, March 9, 2005).
My reaction came from the fact that, 50 years ago, I realized I could write (for my classes) a grammer textbook that was better than any being considered in state or county textbook adoptions. I did so, and no one stopped me or questioned my curricular tampering. I revised the grammer text each year to fit the needs of my students, and now, as a college professor, I am seeing my book, Grammar Toward Professionalism, being published. Moreover, I am finding to my delight that much of the common-sense approach I developed in my period of youthful rebellion is now, 50 years later, being hailed as innovation.
A teacher who is well versed in the content area can adapt a textbook to his or her students’ needs and incorporate examples that may expand knowledge across the curriculum.
As Los Angeles Superintendent of Schools Roy Romer is quoted as saying in your earlier article on the American Diploma Project Network (“Summit Fuels Push to Improve High Schools,” March 9, 2005), “It doesn’t help to have great standards if a teacher doesn’t know what to do with them.”
In his Commentary, Frank Wang puts his finger on a large part of the solution to this dilemma when he writes of textbooks, “The classroom should be the starting point, rather than the end point, of the product-development process.”
Martha J.B. Cook
Professor of Education