Roseville High School's independent student press

Eye of the Tiger

District educators question continued textbook funding, consider alternative materials

Earth+science+textbooks+from+2003+sit+in+the+storage+hallway+of+the+900s+west+building.+Science+teacher+John+Fuller+said+he+chooses+to+not+use+these+in+his+class+because+they+are+%E2%80%9Cold+and+outdated.%E2%80%9D+%28SINO+OULAD+DAOUD%2FEYE+OF+THE+TIGER%29
Earth science textbooks from 2003 sit in the storage hallway of the 900s west building. Science teacher John Fuller said he chooses to not use these in his class because they are “old and outdated.” (SINO OULAD DAOUD/EYE OF THE TIGER)

Earth science textbooks from 2003 sit in the storage hallway of the 900s west building. Science teacher John Fuller said he chooses to not use these in his class because they are “old and outdated.” (SINO OULAD DAOUD/EYE OF THE TIGER)

Earth science textbooks from 2003 sit in the storage hallway of the 900s west building. Science teacher John Fuller said he chooses to not use these in his class because they are “old and outdated.” (SINO OULAD DAOUD/EYE OF THE TIGER)

Advertisement

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Last school year, RJUHSD spent over $778,000 on various textbooks. They plan on spending over $798,000 this year as the science department begins adopting new curriculum and AP courses update their learning materials and exams.

Legislation from 2004 passed in response to the Williams v. State of California case which mandates that all CA schools provide state standard-aligned instructional materials accessible to every student.

“Because of the Williams Act, we have to be on record of what we’re using,” RJUHSD Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Jess Borjon said. “There has to be some accompanying official resource that the district says ‘This is what we’re using to teach the classes so that we’re in compliance with the Williams Act and we can tell the state of California that every single one of our students have the resources to be successful in that class.”

In the past, compliance with the Williams Act often meant procuring textbooks for each student, but with emerging access to free curriculum that is aligned to state educational standards, instructional materials can come in the form of access to online resources provided by chromebooks.

The district board has long strived toward a “one-to-one” program that would provide each student with a personal learning device and Borjon believes achieving a “one-to-one” program may be necessary to fulfill the Williams Act’s accessibility requirements.

“As a district we are exploring ways to employ a ‘one-to-one’ approach to student digital devices,” Borjon said in an email. “Until this step is taken we have challenges with the Williams Act.”

Although RHS principal David Byrd understands the Williams Act and what it entails, he feels like teachers should turn to alternate sources for learning materials instead of relying on the textbook because of the endless opportunities available online.

“I’m not gonna be dismayed if I’ve got educators that are not using textbook. I mean, I’m almost at a place where I feel like in some courses and in some cases, you shouldn’t use a textbook,” Byrd said. “There’s so much more that you can do without a textbook.”

The Williams Act is designed to prevent schools from disregarding students’ needs, but according to Borjon it can also prevent the necessary flexibility of a modern classroom. He recognizes this problem as something that needs to be addressed through teacher requests.

“The district is not coming across as ‘not wanting to go that direction.’ The process has been really teacher dominant in terms of how we go about picking our textbook resources.”

Borjon said that while the Williams Act compels the district to purchase textbooks adopted for a course, teachers determine the reality of the textbooks’ use.

“When we say ‘we’re going to adopt [a textbook] for math,’ we’re now legally obligated to furnish a book for every single student in that class,” Borjon said. “To the degree that the teacher uses that book is up to the teacher.”

PLTW engineering and Earth science teacher John Fuller believes textbooks lag behind other more modern instructional materials.

Old and new textbooks pile together among various objects. Teachers refuse to use outdated textbooks, but the district won’t replenish books for classes that don’t make use of them. (SINO OULAD DAOUD/EYE OF THE TIGER)

“With all the things out there these days though, I mean, for a teacher to rely too heavily on a textbook I think is a bit outdated and antiquated because with technology out there, there’s just so many better ways to learn,” Fuller said.

According to Borjon, the slower modernization of the textbook industry plays a major role in preventing the district from transitioning away from traditional books.

“The industry itself [sets] the rules… We just kind of have to live in their world,” Borjon said. “If we’re answering the question of ‘how do we modernize education’… the textbook industry themselves have not fully transitioned into the market that we’re playing in.”

According to English teacher Scott Brink, CP English 9 only uses textbooks at the beginning of the term due to their age. Brink added that the literary content covered using the textbooks may also be printed from the Internet.

“Part of the reason for the lack of use of textbooks is that the Holt curriculum that we have was adopted in the early 2000s, so it’s pretty old and outdated at this point,” Brink said. “We could probably find them online and print a version of them.”

AP Art History teacher Patricia Leong received a new class set of textbooks this year. Leong prefers the textbook’s content to some open-source online content and believes the books bring students closer to a college experience.

“I like that they have the textbook… because sometimes the articles that we get online aren’t as in-depth as this textbook is, and this is a textbook that most major universities use,” Leong said. “It’s something that if they were to go on into college they would be familiar with already.”

While free digital content could save the district money, simply switching to digital versions of the textbooks currently used in the district would have very little impact. According to Borjon, although switching to online textbooks seems convenient, the costs for instructional materials would not actually change.

“It’s more complex than most people realize,” Borjon said after his team investigated how much it would actually cost to implement non-traditional online sources. “There have almost been no savings in digital publishings.”

Byrd believes continued spending on curricular resources is justified.

“At the end of the day, the information is what’s valuable,” Byrd said.

Opting open-source online materials would save the district money, but at the risk of distributing invalid information to students.

“I think in order for us to really save money in the district going the digital route, we need to explore what open-source materials [are] like,” Borjon said. “I have to add some caution about the validity of the source.”

Byrd believes the district school board could still approve of and incorporate open-source materials into classrooms regardless of the risk.

“I would like to think we can figure that out,” Byrd said. “I would like to think that we can get a pretty good read on what is the approved academic educational resource that are gonna make the most sense connected to a curriculum.”

Fuller uses the textbook in his CP Earth Science class by assigning occasional homework that comes directly out of the issued textbooks. He believes online resources and physical textbooks go together, since if one fails to provide information, the other can easily be accessed in order to help give the student a better understanding of the content.

“For students that don’t necessarily have online access, you could always resort back to the traditional textbook,” Fuller said.

Even as he uses these resources, Fuller worries that the instructional material may never get updated, as the Earth science textbooks he uses to teach class date back to 2003.

“The books we have been using are so old and outdated. They definitely need to be updated,” Fuller said. “I don’t think any textbook companies have actually released any specific textbooks that accommodate the new standard.”

Byrd said he would not have anticipated the current continued use of textbooks, referring back to the early 2000s when textbooks began to come with digital CD-ROM copies.

“If I had to bet back in 2002 we would have textbooks in 2017, I would have bet you we wouldn’t,” Byrd said. “I’m surprised we still haven’t quite got there. We’re slow to get this done, but I think it’s coming. I think it’s coming fast.”

Leave a Comment

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




Navigate Right
Navigate Left
  • District educators question continued textbook funding, consider alternative materials

    Galleries

    GALLERY: Fall break kicks off with Clash of the Classes rally

  • District educators question continued textbook funding, consider alternative materials

    News

    RHS’ maintenance rating drops

  • District educators question continued textbook funding, consider alternative materials

    News

    RJUHSD plans to offer dual enrollment courses

  • District educators question continued textbook funding, consider alternative materials

    News

    Accountibility system to aid school-to-family transparency

  • District educators question continued textbook funding, consider alternative materials

    Briefs

    Google Drive problems impede classroom work

  • District educators question continued textbook funding, consider alternative materials

    News

    Project Lead the Way class receives funding for new technology, equipment

  • District educators question continued textbook funding, consider alternative materials

    Briefs

    Seniors, parents utilize Cash for College night

  • District educators question continued textbook funding, consider alternative materials

    News

    Students participate in community-building workshop

  • District educators question continued textbook funding, consider alternative materials

    Galleries

    GALLERY: Student government hosts BCAM Pink Out Rally during one-lunch

  • District educators question continued textbook funding, consider alternative materials

    News

    RHS senior Scarlett Frazee commits to joining the Marine Corps