Wednesday, June 01, 2005

They Ban Books Don't They?

The California Assembly has passed legislation in a 42-28 vote along party lines to ban public schools from purchasing text books containing more than 200 pages (hat tip: Debunkers).
AB 756 would force publishers to condense key ideas, basic problems and basic knowledge into 200 pages, then to provide a rich appendix with Web sites where students can go for more information.

The text of AB 756 says it could reduce the cost and weight of textbooks. - Sacramento Bee

This bill will likely pass in the Senate since party lines are being held. I don't know what more I can say about this piece of legislation, it speaks for itself. I can only suggest that you go through your house and throw out all the books with more than 200 pages, and you will have an idea of the experience our students will be having in the California education system.


Blogger Scott said...

I have a hard time understanding why this would be a party-line vote, although I admit I'm not particularly familiar with eith California politics or the history of this bill. I don't see in your post that the bill would require classes to only use a single textbook for the entire semester/year. I had many classes that used multiple books. One advantage to splitting a course into 2 or more textbooks is that it enables the school system to reconfigure their classes to work with their requirements instead of trying to make the classes fit the book. Another of course is the weight of the books. If one class uses two books, one in the fall and one in the spring, the student will only have to carry around one at a time, not the entire 400-page deadweight.
I just don't understand why this would be such a cause for right-wing alarm.

11:36 AM  
Blogger The Indigent Blogger said...

I can't speak for the right-wing, but I agree with the Republican assembly member who suggested this micro-management taken to the extreme. The decision on which book to use seems like one best left to the local school board as that is one of the reasons local school boards exist.

If a school district decides that a 250 page text book would fit their curriculum perfectly, why must the state force them to either buy an inadequate text book with fewer pages or go through the expense of having the publisher reissue the ideal book with smaller print to make it 200 pages? It just seems like something that should have been nowhere on the radar of the state assembly.

1:06 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

I agree with ID, let the local school boards decide which books to purchase.

If they do cut down the size of the school textbooks, I wonder what they will cut out of the history books, the fact the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776, or that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson owned slaves? Will they decide to print Antietam was the bloodiest battle in American history? Or will they cut that to talk about Harriet Tubman and the underground railroad?

1:38 PM  
Blogger AlanK said...

That seems to be a very strange decision, although with some good intention surely they could just purchase some basic books with illustrations and use the other books to go into more detail when needed

I agree it does sound a little too much micro management

Also not completely sure, but I assumed that California was a Republican held state or is that only the govenor

6:13 PM  
Blogger The Indigent Blogger said...

California is a true blue state by any measure, securely held by Democrat politicians. We currently have a Republican governor who is much more socially liberal than President Bush.

6:35 PM  
Blogger Scott said...

Well, it wasn't that long ago that California reliably voted for Republican presidents. That being said, California is definitely a different beast than the other 49.
The thing about leaving it up to the school boards is that the local school boards have zero power with publishers. If publishers don't offer 200-page books, but only 400 page books, they'll have no choice but to buy the heavier ones. But if the entire state of California is only buying 200-page books, publishers will start producing the smaller books. California is so large and so populous, that this tactic works with a lot of industries. If California requires a new standard on automobiles, the manufacturers start making it. If some county makes a new standard, the carmakers ignore them.

12:04 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

Sounds like socialism when the government starts dictating what the consumers can buy. Sorry for the cross blogging.

3:00 PM  
Blogger Mainline Mom said...

WTF?? That's nutso! Can Ahhhnold veto this measure? The Bible has more than 200 pages...oh wait, that's already banned. Anna Karenina has more than 200 pages. What about English lit books full of stories and poems. Who's to decide that half of them aren't worth studying. And Calculus isn't exactly something where you can condense concepts. Sheesh.

7:16 PM  

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