Textbooks, changes, challenges
Dr. Howell Wright

A s Bob Dylan’s song “ The times they are a-changin’” rings true for how textbooks for students in Texas will change beginning this coming school year. There are several reasons for the coming changes including the approval of legislation in the final days of the “special session” that ended a couple of weeks ago.

The wording in the new law changed from “ textbooks” to “instructional materials”. The legislature has passed the responsibility of providing textbooks to Texas students to the local school district. In another piece of legislation our State Legislators have removed the Technology Allotment and folded it into the Instructional Materials Allotment.

Basically, each school district will be provided funds through a designated account to purchase textbooks, supplemental instructional materials and technology that may be necessary to access the instructional materials. Districts will be required to choose between a textbook for each student, classroom sets of textbooks or electronic textbooks. District textbooks committees have prepared for a change from the traditional textbook to the electronic textbook over the past couple of years. In fact many of you may read books online or through e-readers such as iPads and Kindles.

The bigger issue for this coming year is the delay of our new system of ordering instructional materials. It is unlikely that we will have new textbooks or supplemental science materials available at the beginning of the school year.

The scenario goes like this: The Texas Education Agency has been on hold while the legislature completed their work in late June. The agency now must wait for the State Board of Education to complete their work next week before they can take the next step. Once the State Board has approved supplemental science materials (science textbooks were not approved because of the funding deficit) then training can begin on how the ordering system will work for school districts.

Therefore, schools will not have new textbooks or supplemental materials that go along with older textbooks until sometime after school begins.

Campus administration will keep parents updated when we textbooks and supplemental materials arrive and are available for students use. This new approach to textbooks and instructional materials is very different than what we have become accustomed. Change is interesting and requires us to always be ready for the next step.

As Mr. Dylan refers in his famous song “As the present now will later be past...the times they are a-changin’.”

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2011-07-14 digital edition

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