Textbook Transformation Measure Wins Unanimous Support

Peace’s bill to reform antiquated code and save taxpayer dollars advances Del. Christopher K. Peace (R-Mechanicsville) introduced House Bill 137, which will allow local option for school boards to enter into contracts with textbook publishers and reorganize the process for purchases. Currently, state law currently allows only the State Board of Education to enter into contracts with publishers. The bill also expands the definition of textbook to include print, electronic, online, and other manipulative-based programs.

"Principled reform is needed in a number of key areas of education including the very tools our students use," said Del. Peace. "Students would benefit from a dynamic learning platform delivered more efficiently. Taxpayers also stand the prospect of real savings. For every dollar saved through updating the definition of textbook investments could be made in the classroom or teacher salaries."

Peace’s measure also reorganizes the textbook purchasing process and repeals several sections of outdated code such as the requirement for the state to maintain all textbooks in Virginia. It provides that if consumable materials are sold to students, the local school board must provide those materials at a reduced price, or free of charge, to students who are unable to afford them.

"A 19th century scientist said, ‘The principal goal of education is to create men who are capable of doing new things, not simply of repeating what other generations have done.’ We must be preparing our children for college and/or the workforce. We must keep up with the technological advances elsewhere in the world if we want to remain a preeminent global economic force."

This measure reported unanimously out of the House Committee on Education; final House passage is expected early next week. Senator John Watkins is carrying a companion measure in the Senate. Mr. Watkins and Peace served as co-chairs of the Joint Commission on Technology and Science Advisory Committee studying Open Education Resource technology and textbooks.