Washington State House approves measure to create open source materials program for e-textbooks for students grades K-12, hopes to replace out-of-date texts with more affordable option
March 5, 2012
– The House of Representatives approved a measure that will provide school districts with a cheaper alternative to expensive textbooks.
House Bill 2337, sponsored by Rep. Reuven Carlyle (D-Seattle), is designed to fix two major problems with K-12 textbooks: they are extremely expensive and out-of-date.
“This is structural, systematic reform that is meaningful for taxpayers in this state,” Carlyle said on the House floor.
HB 2337 directs the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to create an open courseware program that is aligned with Common Core standards. Open source materials are vetted, peer-review materials that are freely available to the public.
Washington state pays over $128 million per biennium in textbooks for K-12 schools. The average textbook is seven to 11 years out of date. By contrast, open course materials are either free or inexpensive and online materials can be updated in real time.
“Textbooks are a $9 billion industry in this country,” said Carlyle. “Open source educational materials are the future. They are gaining popularity with school districts all across the nation. They are simple, efficient, easy to use, and dramatically cheaper than proprietary textbooks.”
Carlyle was a champion for utilizing open courseware at community and technical colleges. Through his service on the state Board of Community and Technical Colleges, he pushed for the creation of an Open Course Library that holds open course materials for the state’s most heavily-enrolled courses.
Traditional textbooks that can run over $200 a piece are significantly less in the Open Course Library. In most cases, the course materials are made available online for free.
Carlyle estimates that community college students saved over $1.25 million in textbook costs during the 2011-2012 school year. With the passage of HB 2337, Carlyle believes the successful community college open courseware program can be replicated at the K-12 level.
On his personal blog, Carlyle wrote, “Educational materials created and funded by tax dollars should be openly licensed and available to the public who paid the bill.”
With this most recent vote in the House, the bill now heads to the Governor for her consideration.