Texas Schools May No Longer Be Forced To Buy Physical Textbooks Just To Use Digital Ones

from the good-for-them dept

A few months back, a reader named JT sent in the news that school districts in Texas were being forced to buy physical textbooks, even if they only wanted to use digital ones. Apparently, some publishers were claiming that they had to “bundle” the digital textbook with a physical one, and that meant that schools were receiving shipments of physical textbooks, which were then locked up in a warehouse never to be used. That may be changing, as the state is moving forward on a law that would put electronic textbooks on the “approved list” of books that schools could buy. That said, I’m still wondering why the schools that wanted the e-texts (such as the one listed that issues every student a laptop) didn’t just team up with other schools to give them the physical books for “free.” After all, if they were forced to “buy” them, couldn’t they give them away to others as well?

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Comments on “Texas Schools May No Longer Be Forced To Buy Physical Textbooks Just To Use Digital Ones”

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romeosidvicious (profile) says:

Texas is one of the worst states for public education! I wouldn’t be shocked if there were rules in place preventing sharing textbooks between campuses of schools in same district much less between districts. It probably also has to do with budget issues where if they could only buy the bundle but then gave away the dead tree version it would work against their budget for the next year. The public school system here in my favorite state is entirely broken. Last I heard Texas was fighting Mississippi for 50th place in education in the US. (Reasons I homeschool my children). I haven’t looked into it but I am willing to lay odds that some arcane policy kept the dead tree editions locked up and unable to be used.

kirillian (profile) says:

Re: Re:

So what makes an education system good? Just curious? Personally, I found the Texas education system to be incredible as far as encouraging gifted students. Those at the bottom of the heap seemed to fair pretty well…there seemed to be a number of programs available to them…the people in the middle seemed to do just fine too…as far as how well educated people from different areas of the country seem compared to others, I’d definitely have to say that Texans seem to know at least as much (they also seem to have a lot more common sense compared to northerners – but that seems to be a trend in the southern US)…

Point is, it’s really difficult to evaluate the effectiveness of an education system…your personal bias almost always creeps in.

However, romeo, I don’t know how or where you found your information, but I couldn’t actually find anything that even remotely resembled your assertions…Texas seems to be pretty average as far as overall education averages show.

I’m not of the opinion that it’s the public school system that’s broken. It seems to be the whole political system in general…we’ve allowed the “educated” but stupid, arrogant, and greedy politicians to dictate our everyday lives while the rest of us struggle to just survive day to day. We’ve gotten complacent and lazy. Now, we have to suffer the consequences – we’re gonna have to work hard in order to sort things out.

romeosidvicious (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I am a native and proud Texan. Just wanted to make sure that was known. Here is info from the state.tx.us website on education:

Texas is #49 in verbal SAT scores in the nation (493) and #46 in average math SAT scores (502).

Texas is #36 in the nation in high school graduation rates (68%).

Between school years 1999 and 2005, the number of central administrators employed by Texas public schools grew by 32.5%, overall staffing in public schools grew by 15.6%, while the number of teachers grew only 13.3%.

Less than 35% of 8th graders performed at or above grade level in reading and math in 2005

Only 40% of fourth graders performed at or above grade level in math and less than 30% performed at or above grade level in 2005


That is abysmal to be sure! Administration increases at an alarming rate and teachers don’t? Seriously, my beloved state has massive education issues. There is reason the unofficial motto for Texas is “Thank God for Mississippi”.

The public school system is broken in Texas, it is broken due to the politics involved, the parents involved (or not involved as the case may be), and the teacher’s unions. I have friends who teach at a variety of school districts and my grandparents-in-law taught high school here in Houston for better than 20 years. I what the system churns out in the way of students, I hear what the system does to teachers, and I see how it affects my children’s friends.

Texas is anything but average in education. (Thank God for Mississippi.) There’s a lot to be proud of here in the Lone Star State. Our education system certainly isn’t on that list.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

yes, but how do you rate gifted? A gifted student in Georgia may only amount to a C student in say NY or Connecticut.

Not to mention each district and each school in the district is different. It should not be that way, but it is. Teachers are not encouraged to collaborate across districts and states. If thye did, they would probably see all the cracks in the system and the system would break down.

Here in GA, they are talking about getting rid of head principals in the schools to save the 60-100K/year in salary per school building. Take Clayton county that has around 90 school buildings. If each principal make 70k, that is $6.3 million per year. For a figure head that has no authority at all. The vice principals are the ones that really run the show.

MarnieGayle says:

Re: Re: Re:


I agree with you. If you do not like our education system Romeo, quit voting for that stupid guy in office.

I live in an exemplary school district and I my children are getting a good education, making the grade, learning the fundamentals and are happy.

It would be great if the state would go paperless but how economical is that really? Making sure an entire state student body, as big as Texas, all have laptops and soft-copy versions of books? Then your child looses their book, you are not just loosing a book, but the whole laptop? And who pays for that lost laptop? The taxpayers for the whole state or the poor parents who can’t afford a computer for their own home much less one they have to return to the school?

Come on people!!

It makes no sense to accuse a state legislature of making a conscience choice to purchase both the book and the soft copy. If anything I am sure the manufacturer wanted to be able to charge for both. Texas is all about sharing, we did that really STUPID Robin Hood Education program for a while.

That is my two cents.

romeosidvicious (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:


I didn’t vote for the governor we have in Texas right now and didn’t vote for some of the other idiots either. However no-one who has a serious chance of winning is running on a decent education platform. I voted for Kinky last time and will again. I don’t vote any party line and study each candidate. Both parties have bent the Texas education system over a barrel and failed to use Vasoline. With the two major parties we get to choose just how we will screw the public education system in Texas even more. There are some candidates who have decent education platforms but those are usually third party and in areas where there chances are laughable at best. I vote for them when they come up but it’s a sacrificial vote at best.

I don’t think paperless is the way to go right now but it is time to start moving towards that goal. Couple something like Dell’s education line with a good insurance policy and you could do it for a decent price and with good protection for lost or damaged laptops. It’s not something that can be done overnight but we need to start taking the steps. The purchase mentioned in the article was not a wise choice towards the goal and we don’t have all the facts such as the license agreement for the e-version and so on. But the decision doesn’t shock me at all.

Don’t get me wrong. There are good schools in Texas but they are not the norm. Katy just lost most of their highest rankings and the test scores are slipping and KISD used to be one of the best districts in Texas but it’s headed down the same path. My oldest daughter’s best friend goes to what used to be one of the top junior high schools in the state and from what I hear from her and my daughter talking the school is pretty dreadful compared to when I had friends that attended there.

The numbers don’t lie. I cited the actual stats and gave the source (the state itself) from the last full study (2005) and recent stats (2008) showing that your children’s exemplary school is the exception and not the norm. My grandparents-in-law taught at Lamar HS in Houston for better than 20 years (Sandy coached football and Florene taught science) and just listening to Florene (Sandy is no longer with us) talk about how good Lamar used to be and how it is now, as she keeps up with teachers there, is depressing.

You can make good arguments for a single school being awesome and making the cut but when less that 50% of 4th and 8th graders are performing at acceptable levels statewide then the system is broken. I am glad your children have an exemplary school to attend however the majority of children in Texas do not. AISD (Alief) is another fine example of a horribly run district. It so horrible that if you get your first job, right out of school teaching in AISD you cannot get hired anywhere else in Texas without a lot of wrangling and then only if you are lucky. My best friend is dealing with that right now.

You live where your children can attend, by your claim, an amazing set of schools. I do not so my children do not attend public school. I have three school age children right now all performing better than the national average in all commonly tested subjects. I intend to keep it that way and the only way to do that with any certainty is to homeschool them. I am glad you don’t have to. Before you make statements like “quit voting for that idiot in office” you should check and see if the person did vote for him. I did not and will not. So thanks for the advise but I have already followed it. I am active politically and very much so at the local and state levels. I want to see to public school system in Texas re-vamped but it won’t happen. It won’t happen regardless of who is governor to be completely honest.

“Thank God for Mississippi”

mihknotyu says:

ref: education

My issue with this is gov’t buying practices. In VA for example, they pay more to have the standard radio systems that come with cars uninstalled and have just am/fm radios put in so it doesn’t look like the state’s wasting money. Just Dumb. So, buying books and putting them into a warehouse doesn’t suprise me.

A different question would be – What is the impact of kids looking a computer screen for such a long time in school?

I didn’t hear about the actual cost savings between text books and e-books. The companies can easily figure out ways to maintain profits and the cost not be much cheaper.

A Dan says:

Re: ref: education

The impact of looking at a computer screen is probably much smaller than the impact of the students carrying them around. When I was in school, there were a lot of students with back problems (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scoliosis) from the mountains of books they had to carry. From a health standpoint, I can easily see using electronic rather than physical textbooks.

hegemon13 says:


“That said, I’m still wondering why the schools that wanted the e-texts (such as the one listed that issues every student a laptop) didn’t just team up with other schools to give them the physical books for “free.” After all, if they were forced to “buy” them, couldn’t they give them away to others as well?”

My guess is that the license is also “bundled.” That is, you can’t use the e-text unless you own the paper copy. I could be dead wrong on that, but it definitely seems like something the text book industry would try.

MShawnDavis says:

Textbook GiveAway

The reason that the schools had to put the textbooks locked up in a warehouse is a matter of law both regarding public funds and contracts.

In school districts here in Washtington state, if one district has an asset they are no longer using they cannot just give it away as that would be under State law a “Gift of Public Funds”. One taxing district giving money to a different taxing district… homeowners pay alot in property taxes for their local district. Seems to be a good rule.

If that asset is to be given to another public entity; school or other wise, the proper procedure is to use the state surplus system were the receiving entity pays a nominal amount set by the seller or is sent to auction.

2. A local school district here is buying new math texts for their students, a physical book is being bundled with a digital version. However, under the sales contract and EULA for the digital version the license is based upon the number of physical books purchased/owned.

JamesD says:

It’s worse than that where I am at. Most of the classes do not even use books anymore. If they do, the children are not actually issued a book, thus not being able to bring them home, and thus, causing the teachers to no longer assign homework. No kidding. Haven’t seen any of my kids do homework in 2 years. That is about to change as I have yanked my oldest out of public school and he will be doing everything to my standards – which are MUCH higher than the state. Too much babying of kids now, as if they are incapable of performing. I say bull.

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