On January 21, 2010, I wrote a blog post about my recommendations for replacing textbooks (see http://beckyfisher73.posterous.com/whens-the-last-time-you-learned-something-fro). Since then, I have done more research on state funding for textbooks and think you might be interested in what I found. The Texas Education Code allows for state funds to “provide for the purchase by school districts of electronic textbooks or technological equipment that contributes to student learning; and pay for training educational personnel directly involved in student learning in the appropriate use of electronic textbooks and for providing for access to technological equipment for instructional use.” This equipment can be purchased with Texas Textbook Funds.
So, what about in Virginia? Textbook is defined tightly in Virginia, “‘textbooks’ means print or electronic media for student use that serve as the primary curriculum basis for a grade-level subject or course.” What about the equipment that allows kids and teachers to access the electronic textbooks? What about the necessary professional development?
In a time of budget cuts, how about more budget flexibility? By Virginia’s own admission, “While textbooks can be valuable resources, they clearly have limitations.” Search Educational Technology Plan for Virginia: 2010-15 (PDF) for the word textbook and you will get 13 hits, this quote being one. Analyze these hits and you may find a disconnect between the state code and the recently approved Educational Technology Plan for Virginia as well.
I don’t know how to go about changing a law, but I know the law has to change because our kids have! We must have flexibility in policy and funding to, as our new Educational Technology Plan suggests, “explor(e) traditional textbook alternatives such as the flexbook, a free and open-source textbook platform where one can build and edit collaborative textbooks as a means to address these issues.”
I guess I need to hit the flexbooks to learn about how to change a law!