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Education – Textbooks Phased Out?

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“There’sjust no money to put back into education!”

This has been the battle cry for educators and those lobbyingfor more funding for years – on both the state and nationallevels. No matter how you look at it, there just isn’t enough Federalmoney for education. And now, lawmakers in Texas will become thekey decision-makers on whether to use state money to replace oldtextbooks — or to spend it on instructional materials students can get off the Internet.

‘It’s definitely an “either/or” scenario: There just won’t beenough money for both. And educators won’t get the final say.

State Representative Kent Grusendorf, chairman of the HousePublic Education Committee, believes strongly that every highschool student in Texas should be equipped with a laptop. Herecognizes the need for students to be laptop-educated now,because their very futures depend on it.

However, some dissenters say phooey. Cliff Avery, executivedirector of the Textbook Coordinators Association of Texas,believes if schools go with this plan, the Legislature could justas easily “pull the rug out from under it” as soon as theyapprove it. He’s asking for a more long-term fundingcommitment.

In the end, however, the Legislature remains the headdecision-making body, leaving lawmakers to decide whetherclassrooms should be filled with laptops providing Internet access or newer, traditional textbooks.

Preliminary plans would give schools $150 per student forinstructional materials and technology, beginning in the 2006-07school year, and the State Board of Education would votequarterly on whether to OK future Internet-based materialsrequired to satisfy Texas’ curriculum requirements.

So are laptop computers an educational aid, or a needless classroomdistraction? Educators will be debating this topic in the coming months and years.

By: Henrik Stigell