Re "Aging textbooks to stay in classes longer," Aug. 8
As a former teacher who spent 10 years in the classroom, the decision to stop purchasing new textbooks is the most sensible thing I have heard yet in terms of solutions to the budget crisis in education. Every year, our school would spend an unbelievable amount of money on outrageously overpriced books that differed very little from the previous editions. And how much can the textbooks really change from year to year, especially in subjects such as math and English? Hopefully this money will be used to actually benefit instruction, but I have little faith, based on past experience.
As an educator in a large local school district, I am dismayed that new textbook adoptions in California will be postponed. In my subject area, the language arts, the current texts, while rich in fiction, are lacking the expository texts that are tested at the state level and prepare our students for successful college and career experiences.
Publishers have recognized and addressed this need in new text editions, but we will not be able to provide them to our teachers and students.
My district works hard to raise student achievement and will continue to do so, but as a relative newcomer to this state, I am shocked at the low value our legislators are placing on its future -- a future that rests on the education of its citizens.
I am struck by the fact that no one seems to be seriously considering the electronic distribution of educational materials over the Web. The logistical expense of paper-based distribution is simply staggering, as is the weight of books carried in the backpacks of serious students.
Surely there exists in this state the imagination and technical know-how needed to address this issue in a comprehensive manner that better serves students, instructors and taxpayers. How about an energetic push by the state's public schools, working with leading university scholars, Silicon Valley whiz kids and the California Department of Education?