More on Textbooks

Update: 8/26/08 – I received a follow up email to further clarify what they’d told me and you can see those updates highlighted in the bullet points below. It ends up that this will be discussed at tonight’s Board of Ed meeting.

Last week I wrote about learning that in some of my son’s middle school classes they don’t have textbooks for everyone, rather they have textbooks in the classroom, "classroom sets", and if students need to access them for homework they can do so online.  As I wrote in my post this troubled me, so I emailed the powers that be in the school system and heard back from them late last week.  Before I go on I’d like to say that they replied during what has to be a very busy time for them, it being the week before school starts and all.  They told me they’re going to dig into the details and send them to me, but in the meantime they gave me the rough version:

  • Not enough funding from the state for textbooks for everyone
  • They chipped in local funds but it still wasn’t enough
  • They had to choose between using old textbooks for everyone or buying new textbooks, using classroom sets augmented by online access for some –Update 8/26/08– I received a follow up email that corrected this (I reported correctly, it was a miscommunication on their end): "we apparently still have the option to return to last year’s textbooks and use them one more year."
  • Textbook purchasing is system wide so this isn’t peculiar to Meadowlark
  • Some middle school classes have classroom sets, and then arrangements with the publishers to access the text online — Update 8/26/08 — I received a follow up email that corrected this (I reported correctly, it was a miscommunication on their end): "we have a CD of the book for every book that we purchased, but a sales rep told our folks that the on-line version could be purchased for a fairly small fee."
  • Students are able to check books out overnight if they need to
  • Those students without at-home internet can use any of the over 40 Winston Net stations located in libraries, rec centers and churches throughout Forsyth County

They also said that they will review this policy at the end of the school year and if it caused problems they’ll determine what changes need to be made.

Like I said this is just the rough version and I’ll wait and see what the specifics turn out to be, but I’d say that in general it’s a good explanation. Those who don’t like this particular prioritization might want to speak up at future board of education meetings. I’ll let you know as soon as I get the details.

3 thoughts on “More on Textbooks

  1. jacquelyn kiszewski

    Mr. Lowder: What is the title of the middle school social science textbook that is being shared?
    School Officials Suggest Buying More Online Versions of Books – Internet Access May Replace the Purchase of Texts (North Carolina)
    August 27, 2008
    The Winston-Salem Journal reports, “Winston-Salem/Forsyth County school officials told the school board last night that buying more online subscriptions for social-studies textbooks might be a necessary next step. While evaluating a tight budget earlier this year, school officials decided to buy classroom sets of social-studies books for sixth-and seventh-graders, instead of buying books for each student to take home. After realizing that every book in the classroom set doesn’t come with access to an online version, school officials suggested that buying an additional 82 online subscriptions, at a cost of about $5,000. The additional subscriptions would be bought so more students can access the online textbooks outside of school. Superintendent Don Martin said that every student has access to the books during the school day and can access online versions of books and other learning tools online if they have Internet access at home. Students can also go to the more than 40 WinstonNet labs in local libraries and other locations to access the information,” he said. “It’s kind of an experiment to see how that works. We will actually evaluate that at the end of the year. If it works well, we won’t buy textbooks next year.”
    Source: Winston-Salem Journal
    Thank you.

  2. Jon Lowder

    Hi Jacquelyn. Thanks for the comment. To answer your question, I can tell you that my son’s online access is to a text called North Carolina Journeys published by Gibbs Smith. It’s a series covering 4th through 8th grades. Since he is in 7th grade my son’s text is A Journey Through Africa, Asia and the Pacific Realm. During the meeting that the Journal article is referencing they didn’t mention the actual title of the text, but there was a handout so it should appear in the minutes of the board meeting when they’re posted online.
    Also, I think the article might have gotten the dollar amount wrong because when I watched the meeting last night I could have sworn they said $9,000 in additional spending, but I haven’t had a chance to go back and check it again.

  3. Stephanie Wise

    I recently had to take my daughter out of public school due to her dyslexia. This was her first year back in public school after being in a special school for students with reading related differences for the past 3 years. My daughter started experiencing health problems related to stress, and I was advised by her doctor to homeschool her for the remainder of the year.
    I am trying desperately to find textbooks to purchase like the ones she had in public school. She was in 7th grade. Do you have any suggestions? I have been able to find some text books on eBay for her grade level, but I want to make sure I am giving her the best education possible. I am a certified teacher with a Master’s degree. At present, I am home on short term disability, which has allowed me to homeschool her the reminder of this year. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


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