Students Can’t Read? Get Rid of the Books!


Yesterday, the California State Assembly passed a bill by Jackie Goldberg that would prohibit the State Board of Education and school districts from purchasing textbooks that are more than 200 pages.

AB 756 (Goldberg) states:

This bill would prohibit the State Board of Education and school districts from adopting instructional materials that exceed 200 pages in length.

As reported in today’s Sacramento Bee:

AB 756 would force publishers to condense key ideas, basic problems and basic knowledge into 200 pages, then to provide a rich appendix with Web sites where students can go for more information.

Now this is absurd on so many levels I don’t even know where to begin! First of all, what is to keep publishers from simply splitting the books into multiple volumes and charging more for the set than the original book?

The Association of American Publishers opposes the bill, saying the arbitrary 200-page limit could force publishers to produce multiple volumes to cover the state’s content standards.
Textbooks would have to be restructured, the group contends.

“To do this will increase the costs of instructional materials without adding any instructional value,” lobbyist Dale Shimasaki, representing publishers, said in a letter of opposition.

Secondly, if so much of the key information will have to be accessed on the internet, won’t students who don’t have access to the internet at home be at a disadvantage?

Hilary McLean, a spokeswoman for O’Connell, said that not every student – at school or at home – has ready access to the Internet.

“You can’t carry the computer home with you,” said Bill Hauck, president of California Business Roundtable.

And finally, does this really address the problem in public schools today?

“Our problem in California is not the size of textbooks, it’s that we have large achievement gaps that need to be closed,” he (Hauck) said.

Assemblyman Hector De La Torre got up and boasted how he was going to be spending the weekend with his daughter working on a project for school. And he made it a point to state that this project, in no way required the use of a textbook.

I thought it was admirable of him to spend time with his daughter and all. But I could not help but think to myself, “If his she is in the same boat as most public school students, chances are she can’t read anyway!”

Craig DeLuz

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