The Texas state House has overwhelmingly approved a new bill that would dramatically alter its textbook landscape. HB 4 would replace the word "textbooks" in the state education code with "instructional materials," making it easier for schools to use state funds to purchase computer-based textbooks; provide a substantial increase in technology funding; and give additional flexibility to schools to update instructional materials by increasing the ease and frequency in which materials are updated. Currently, the State Board of Education selects textbooks once every six years, but could now approve new cyber-materials four times a year - allowing companies to simply update their materials, instead of forcing districts to buy brand new textbooks at hundreds of dollars per kid. "No longer do we have this delay to get good data to kids," said the bill's author, Rep. Kent Grusendorf. The bill would ultimately increase technology spending by $700 million over two years, but would also cut traditional textbook funding by $378 million. Right now, it is unclear how the bill would affect the never-ending battles over evolution and sex ed in Texas textbooks, or affect the state's onerous textbook guidelines. But it may encourage one of the outcomes Fordham advocated in The Mad, Mad World of Textbook Adoption: breaking the stranglehold of a few multinational conglomerates over the $4+ billion textbook market in this country.
"House: Tech-savvy kids need high-tech teaching," by Jason Embry, Austin American-Statesman, April 21, 2005 (registration required)
"Bill alters textbook funding," by R.A. Dyer, Star-Telegram, April 21, 2005