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Who needs textbooks, anyway?

An Oakland teacher and blog reader sent me a link to this story about Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s latest idea for closing California’s enormous budget deficit AND reducing childhood back strain in one fell swoop.

I love this first sentence:

“Kids, as you all know, today are very familiar with listening to their music digitally and online and to watch TV online, to watch movies online, to be on Twitter and participate in that and on Facebook,” Schwarzenegger said.

“So this is why I think it is so important that we move on from the textbooks,” the Republican Governor told schoolchildren in Sacramento on Monday according to remarks released by his office.

“The textbooks are outdated, as far as I’m concerned, and there’s no reason why our schools should have our students lug around these antiquated and heavy and expensive textbooks.

Can you think of one?

photo from Amanda Munoz’s photostream at flickr.com/creativecommons

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • kindergartenkop

    He’s on to something:_Connecticut District Tosses Algebra Textbooks and Goes Online_
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/08/education/08math.html?_r=1&src=linkedin

  • Julie

    I assume that he is talking about high school textbooks but, even so… the governor apparently thinks that every student has access to a working computer at school and at home. What planet is he living on?

  • http://www.sanleandrobytes.com/ Mike Katz-Lacabe

    This(!!) was the Governor’s grand idea for “saving” millions of dollars in his speech on June 2. Schools can save money by getting rid of textbooks, but that savings will pale next to the amount schools will need to spend on ensuring that students have some way to read the digital textbooks.

    I think that reasonably-priced devices for reading digital textbooks will eventually replace paper books, but not yet.

  • cranky teacher

    I would get rid of textbooks for a different reason: They are a pedagogical nightmare, the backbone of the “banking” strategy which has been such a disaster in public education for a century.

  • Catherine

    Think about it – this may eliminate those assigments teachers give “just because” and make everyone think about whether the homework assignments are really needed or whether the students have shown proficiency / advanced scores already.

    In Oakland our public libraries, with computer and wireless internet access are available 6 days per week until 5:00 and until 8:00 two evenings per week.

    I agree that we need more solutions to the budget, but I do not hear anyone on this list making suggestions on how to cut costs in and around each school – we have only talked about cost-cutting in administration and contractors (of which I agree). I do not see homeowners willing to pop for another $600 per parcel, businesses willing to sponsor a school, no public officials making over $100,000 per year to give the excess to the schools they represent. We have run out of money. There is no more money. All of us are responsible for making creative changes.

  • Julie

    One BIG suggestion is to get rid of the rules that force schools to buy new textbooks every 5-7 years. This next year, every Oakland elementary student will get a brand new textbook (about $30 each) and each teacher will get a new teacher edition ($500 each). This, when most teachers were relatively happy with the Harcourt math books and had learned to address any problems with the program. The fact is that the textbook publishers lobbied hard for this rule and many people in OUSD Instructional Services have well-paying jobs that rely on this rule. When we are cutting back on feeding our students and getting rid of school buses, new textbooks should be put on the back burner!

  • anonymous

    Libraries only allow you to use thier computers for 30 minutes per day. Some students parents do not allow them to walk, commute to the library after school. Schools do not have enough resources as it is. Paper is donated and to have to print the needed pages is going to be a problem for many students. This is a good idea but, the kinks will need to be worked out.