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O'Connell Asks Governor, Legislature to Reconsider Instructional Material Suspension

By Jeff Hudson - July 31, 2009

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell would like the Governor and the Legislature to reconsider a provision of the new state budget that suspends the adoption of new school instructional materials for five years.  The move was intended to save the state money, since state government provides funds to school districts to buy textbooks and related material.

O’Connell warns that continuing to use old texts that are out of alignment with state standards will likely stall progress by students.  “A delay in adopting instructional materials for our students for five years, would significantly affect learning in our schools,” O’Connell said. “Each new version of our textbooks seeks to improve on the last as we learn what strategies and materials are most effective for teaching our students.  Our latest Reading Language Arts/English Language Development books, for example, significantly have improved strategies for teaching English learners.  Failing to provide new options for adopted instructional materials will hurt all students, especially our most vulnerable students, and threatens to increase our already unacceptable achievement gap.”

O’Connell added, “Students will not have new approved books until 2016. The impact is that tools for teachers, principals, and superintendents will be dated and stale and, in some cases, unavailable.”

Taking a cue from last year’s election, O’Connell said “We will have history textbooks that state there has never been an African American president nor will they include up-to-date lessons on the rise of terrorism and our new global challenge as a result.”

“We will have science textbooks that don't mention the value of stem cell research. Global warming and climate change will affect our lives but will not appear in our textbooks.”

“Our students deserve current and accurate materials. If this decision is allowed to stand, many of our students will be stuck with books that were printed before they were born.”

“I fully appreciate the gravity of California's fiscal crisis, but I also understand that any long-term recovery from this crisis will be fueled by the students sitting in our classrooms today. But this recovery won't even get off the ground if we don't ensure that the classroom experience we provide students is of the highest order, and up-to-date instructional materials are an integral part of this experience.”

“I would like to urge the Governor and the Legislature to strongly reconsider this move because they've already left our educators with the daunting task of doing much more with much less in our classrooms.”  

Editor's Note: Jeff Hudson is the editor of EdBrief and an award-winning education reporter and writer in print, radio and television media.