College Textbooks.

 

As a part of the recently passed healthcare legislation, the federal government now has control of the content found in college textbooks. NH Insider blogger Steve MacDonald decries this as yet another example of socialism via the administration.

Guess with my own experience in the background I’d have to be an optimist here and suggest that perhaps this is a good move in the name of its intended purpose, education.

Back when I was an accounting student there was no such thing as Microsoft Windows. The clunky Lotus operating system was the only software on the market and even then it wasn’t that frequently used. Instead, to learn accounting I had to understand both the theory and its practical application(s) in areas ranging from income statements to calculating retained earnings and then using these numbers to complete a full set of financial statements. This is also during the time when the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) and Generally Acceptable Principals of Accounting (GAAP) still had teeth and could discipline accountants that didn’t follow the rules.

Not today.

2010. I believe all of this is gone. Recently, I looked at a college level financial accounting textbook and I was shocked. First it was almost $300.00 in price not including the add-on software and workbook. And it was apparent that this textbook did some theory but the emphasis was getting the student to understand computer software applications used in accounting and how this process worked, basically as if computers are the backbone of accounting instead of the other way around. I’m imagining zombie like technicians sitting at a keyboard in a cubicle entering numbers without any type of understanding of why they are using these numbers or what is ultimately derived from them.  As a part of this statement I realize that progress in any field is a constant, the accounting field included.  Of course computers would be a natural in accounting just like the advent of electric tools for crafts like carpentry and plumbing. But even with progress carpenters, plumbers still know their fields: the tools make their jobs more efficient and cost effective. I don’t believe the same thing is happening in accounting.

And the financial accounting textbook showed me this.  As a result I think the student is paying too much money for a textbook to get less education. So the federal government is now in control of college textbooks, perhaps this is a good thing. With accounting as an example, I think the content should be returned to the historical and generally accepted practice of accounting that has existed for hundreds of years. First year accounting students or at least students enrolled in financial accounting shouldn’t be playing with video games or software at this level. I'm confident that textbook arguements like this can be made for other college level fields: english, psychology and whatever.

My last point it the price of college textbooks themselves. $300.00 for a textbook is obscene by any method of valuation. The price needs to come down.

If this socialism then we need socialism.