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“Textbooks for Texas Schools Could Be Delayed”


By Donna Garner

The bad news is that it appears the new English Language Arts textbooks [and other textbook materials] may be late arriving in the Texas public schools this fall.  (Please see Houston Chronicle article posted below.)

The good news is that the legislature appropriated the funding for the new textbooks at all.  Notice that I said “appropriated” because the funding did not come from them; it came from the Permanent School Fund that theState Board of Education members have been so careful to manage well.  As SBOE Member Ken Mercer has repeatedly stated:

…this investment payout [from the Permanent School Fund and theGeneral Land Office] totals over $3.05 billion for the Available School Fund which by law is required to be spent on new textbooks and education programs…new English language arts textbooks, supplemental science materials, as well as Pre-K Systems. These instructional materials are expected to cost about $550 million over the next two years…

With this $3.05 billion ‘Christmas gift,’ the SBOE sends a bill of $550 million to purchase crucial textbooks for the children of Texas, provides the cash money to pay that bill, andthen pays out over $2.4 billion in additional funding for public school education!

Even though this delay in textbooks will make it very difficult for teachers to plan and carry out their lesson plans this fall, they and the public need to understand that the new STAAR/End-of-Course tests will not affect schools’ ratings for two more years. The TAKS tests taken this last spring will determine school ratings for the next two years. This gives Texas schools a fair chance to implement the new-and-improved English, Science, and Social Studies standards (and the tests built upon them) before schools will be held accountable to them.

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Possible textbook delay adds to worries

Excerpt from this article:

Most likely, language arts textbooks – which were newly adopted in 2010 – and textbooks that districts needed to order in other subjects will be late to arrive, Culbertson said.

After wearing a bull’s-eye in the state budget crunch, Texas school districts may now be forced to start classes in August without new textbooks.

A reconfiguration of the Texas Education Agency‘s online ordering system, coupled with a delay in state textbook funding, is expected to postpone the arrival of new books beyond the start of school the week of Aug. 24 and likely into September, the Texas Education Agency confirmed.

While state officials assure that the new system will eventually ease book buying, local leaders are steamed at the added uncertainty in a school year already crippled by layoffs, class size increases and other budget-cutting moves.

“There goes the first two weeks of school,” Houston Federation of Teachers president Gayle Fallon said. “So much for us maximizing every moment.”

The timing is especially bad since schools will be trying to prepare for the inaugural State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, which will replace the almost decade-old Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills this spring.

“We’ve got the new STAAR testing and new requirements — everything’s new,” said Sandra Vatthauer, school board president in Mansfield, near Fort Worth. “So you’re starting the year with a handicap if you don’t have your textbooks.”

TEA spokeswoman DeEtta Culbertson said many local school officials may be unaware of the logistical change. “We are still getting that information out to the districts to tell them what the situation is,” she said.

The new ordering system and other changes required by Senate Bill 6 will revamp how districts buy books.

Under the outgoing system, districts ordered books from the state, which paid for them. The new system creates an instructional materials fund for each school district and broadens the types of materials districts can buy with the money.

“It opens up more opportunities for the districts,” Culbertson said. “It allows them to purchase technical equipment or provide training.”

They will also be able to use their allotments to buy books not on the list approved by the State Board of Education. Districts wanting off-list books had to buy them with local funding.

The Legislature has allotted $792 million in the proposed biennial budget to buy textbooks and other materials for the state’s roughly 4.8 million schoolchildren.

Not overly alarmed

Theresa Kohler, chief instructional officer in the Crowley school district near Fort Worth, emphasized that textbooks are a resource for, not a source of, instruction.

“We’re not overly alarmed,” Crowley spokesman Anthony Kirchner said.

The Grapevine-Colleyville district near Dallas placed the bulk of its textbook orders in April and expects those to be on time. Later request may have to wait, according to the district’s textbook coordinator, who said the state has delayed the submission of new orders until after Aug. 1.

Most likely, language arts textbooks – which were newly adopted in 2010 – and textbooks that districts needed to order in other subjects will be late to arrive, Culbertson said.

Houston ISD Superintendent Terry Grier said he was unaware of the potential delays.

“This will create a logistical and a curricular problem for our staff,” he said.

 

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