No new textbooks until 2014 in Calif.?

SACRAMENTO, Calif. When any California school district adopts a textbook for use, it is supposed to buy it within two years. However, that has been waved.

The decision stemmed from a choice many school districts had to make: spend what you have on books or teachers. Many districts chose the latter.

When California kids go back to public school is year, most will have old textbooks. The state won't even order any new ones at least until 2014 due to budget cuts.

"We're talking about five years here. For school-aged children, five years is a long time. Today's fourth grader is going to be entering high school in five years," said Peter Birdsall, a public schools lobbyist.

The budget cuts to education are so deep, Sacramento is allowing school districts to use this year's $330 million earmarked for textbooks to pay for other things.

"Between books or people, we landed on people," said Steven Ladd, EdD., Elk Grove School Superintendent.

Many, like the Elk Grove School District, which is California's fifth largest district, are choosing to spend their $3.5 million textbook allocation on teachers.

"We don't teach just from a textbook. We use that as a way to add to the many tools in the tool kit for delivering 21st century education," said Ladd.

But a number of classrooms in California still don't have computer access for every student. So those kids are going to have to keep using their old textbooks; which means some history books won't include Barack Obama as the first African-American president, or science books may not talk about global warming. That worries Kisha Davis, who wonders about the quality of her children's education.

"It's a huge concern. It makes you wonder what they're expecting the kids to learn and how they're expecting to learn," said Kisha Davis, a concerned mother.

The textbook industry saw fewer than 200 California districts place an order this year, which is one third of what the industry expected.

"We're basically put everything on a hold button for five years and that can't be good for anybody," said Craig Greenwood, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing.

The California State Board of Education won't approve new books for kindergarten through eighth grade until 2016 at the earliest. So school districts are allowed to buy the books that have already been approved for purchase, but many districts are unable to afford them.

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