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New laws pave way for updated textbooks in state

By Theresa Harrington
Saturday, October 29th, 2011 at 5:53 pm in Education.

Two laws recently signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown should help bring updated history and science textbooks into California classrooms sooner than was previously possible.

SB 300, authored by State Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, lifts a previous moratorium on adopting a new curriculum framework for science. The last framework was adopted in 1998.

Without this law, the state would not be authorized to work on an update until January 2014. Under the new law, Superintendent Tom Torlakson is required to convene a group of science experts who will recommend science content standards for adoption to the state Board of Education by March 30, 2013. Simultaneously, the state is also working on science standards as part of the national core curriculum effort.

Originally, Hancock also included social studies in the bill, since the state also hasn’t updated that framework since 1998. But that portion of the bill was removed during the adoption process.

Hancock has said she will continue to try to accelerate the process for adopting a new social studies framework, which is not scheduled to be updated until 2014. I wrote about this in my coverage of 9/11 in schools, since the state has no curriculum standards that address the terrorist attacks and their aftermath.

The complete text of Hancock’s bill is at http://leginfo.ca.gov/pub/11-12/bill/sen/sb_0251-0300/sb_300_bill_20111008_chaptered.pdf.

Brown also signed AB 339, authored by Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, which will streamline the review of textbooks to ensure that they include historically relevant information, according to a news release.

It authorizes the State Board of Education to contract with county offices of education to review the social content of instructional materials.

“As a former teacher, I know firsthand the importance of accurate and up to date textbooks,” Bonilla said, in a news release. “Content review ensures that our children’s text books are historically accurate and free of inappropriate material.”

Without the bill, local school districts would be responsible for reviewing the content of instructional materials.

“Schools in my district and across the state want to use additional textbooks and this bill will streamline innovative textbooks straight into the classroom,” said Bonilla, a former Mt. Diablo school district English teacher at Concord High School. “As a teacher, I was always looking for new ways to engage my students. AB 339 brings new and innovative materials into the classroom.”

Text book companies can be charged a fee to cover the costs of the review, according to the bill, which will go into effect Jan. 1, 2012.

The complete text of the bill is at http://leginfo.ca.gov/pub/11-12/bill/asm/ab_0301-0350/ab_339_bill_20111008_chaptered.pdf.

Are you satisfied with your school’s textbooks?

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  • Isn’t it a shame…

    …that MDUSD has put a freeze on any new textbook adoptions for, at least the next few years? With subject adoptions happening only every 7 years, that can leave our kids sadly out of date even when they DO adopt.

  • Theresa Harrington

    One middle school science teacher said the textbook refers to cell phones and microwaves as “new” technology, so she needs to supplement the text with other more up-to-date materials.

  • Doctor J

    Charging textbook companies a fee to have County offices review them is really counterproductive because the textbook company just raises the costs of the textbooks to the districts. I don’t have a major problem with the increasing the time between replacement of textbooks in times of financial crisis — changes or supplements can easily be handled in a “Teacher’s Supplement” that the teacher can use — teachers have to be constantly updating their courses. Technology is now changing two or three times a year instead of two or three times in a decade. History keeps getting added to daily. Last night at the restaraunt, the Ketchup bottle said it is now made out of plant material. When I got home, I checked the one in my refrigerator, it is just plastic. Same brand. There is a change. It is crazy to think we should change the textbooks too often. We would be better off to buy a Kindle for each child and then supplement the materials electronically. Now, please don’t get me started on the future of libraries.

  • vindex

    “As a teacher, I was always looking for new ways to engage my students. AB 339 brings new and innovative materials into the classroom.” Ms. Bonilla.. This has nothing to do with ways to engage students. I’ve never heard a student say “Man, I love textbooks.. Can we have more?” We all remember the teachers that went beyond the textbooks and made our classes relevant. If one goes a bit more into this bill it talks about adding materials in textbooks that are include social issues. Code for homosexual ideas. Check it out for yourself.

  • Doctor J

    Vindex said: ” I’ve never heard a student say “Man, I love textbooks.. Can we have more?” We all remember the teachers that went beyond the textbooks and made our classes relevant.” Vindex understands not just children, but also education. Spot on.

  • Anonymous

    Didn’t we all hate the professors that taught straight out of the book? I couldn’t understand that as we could READ the book ourselves. I loved the teachers that told the stories, that related OTHER material to the textbook facts. Keep the subject alive, interesting , cool and relevant to us. Too many teachers these days wouldn’t know what to do if the text books didn’t arrive. Too much is based on the standardized information all kids must know , kids aren’t robots. Make them care about the material, but as Linda said, instead, they’re bored to death.