The Texas House, called back into session by school funding issues, has passed a bill (HB 2) that increases teacher pay, lowers school property taxes, and allows districts to purchase digital technology instead of traditional textbooks. This last part is a second attempt at an earlier bill that failed to pass (HB 4), which we wrote about in April (see here). As before, all references to "textbooks" are replaced with "instructional materials," and the funds available to purchase them are increased. Currently, Texas spends $30 per student on technology and $65 per student on textbooks; under the new plan, that amount will jump to $125 by 2006, of which $50 must be spent on technology, and $150 by 2007, of which $60 must be spent on technology. The bill also creates a rolling adoption process rather than the strict timetables in place. The new approach doesn't do everything we advocated in The Mad, Mad World of Textbook Adoption - including getting rid of textbook adoption completely! - but it's a start, and a welcome one at that.
"Texas House approves education bill," AP, June 29, 2005