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Textbook Funding in California is Dwindling as School Districts Weigh Options for Digital Textbooks

The Sacramento Bee has a new article about California school districts cutting textbook funds. The Bee reports that textbook funding in the four county region around Sacramento has been significantly decreased. The cause of this is said to be from the general lack of educational funding in California. School districts in Sacramento have found it necessary to decrease and re-allocate funds meant for textbooks and other supplementary materials for students in order to cover other costs. It seems as though district officials in Sacramento are far more concerned with battling teacher layoffs and finding funds for other educational programs. Of course, teachers are important and it is good to hear that district officials are being proactive in terms of attempting to appropriate money to the right places. But can a better job be done?

As California school officials are dealing with the financial quandary of the state, students and educators are exclaiming their desire for higher quality learning materials and less cumbersome textbooks. The article reports that K-12 curriculum coordinator, Laura Lofgren, appreciates the “interactive" aspects of eTextbooks and the ability to incorporate “embedded video".

Digital textbooks – while still expensive – are the future; their popularity rising and their costs will most likely decrease over time. According to the article, school officials are hesitant to adopt new e-readers and other progressive learning technologies because of their current costs.

The Bee reports, “We love the idea of using e-books to replace textbooks, but to do it on a broad scale is extremely expensive,” said Sacramento City Unified spokesman Gabe Ross.

However, if the costs associated with these new avenues of digital distribution are too high now, then school officials should work on lowering those costs today instead of tomorrow. There needs to be accurate financial projections and calculations performed now on the costs of digital textbooks vs traditional textbooks for school districts – in Sacramento and across the nation – so they can adapt to students needs and not go broke at the same time.

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