Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Textbook Use in Question

Even as she presented a comprehensive overview on the status of textbooks in the district, Interim Superintendent Garnell Bailey downplayed their importance in today’s learning process.

“Books are really outdated,” Bailey said, noting that many districts equip students with laptops by the time they reach middle school.

The textbook issue heated up recently amid complaints that students can be seen leaving school with no books to help with homework. Both board members and parents questioned how the district supplies and uses textbooks, sparking Bailey’s explanation, which will be posted on the district web site.

Textbooks are reviewed and recommended by the Content Curriculum Committee. Content supervisors then review and recommend book lists to the school board for adoption. Principals in each school are responsible for ordering the books and keeping track of them.

On Tuesday, board member Lisa Logan Leach broadened the concern from taking books home to questioning their use in the schools. Logan Leach said she observed students passing from class to class without any books, notebooks, pencils or other materials. She said books are kept in classrooms and students must use them by “time-sharing.”

Board member Wilma Campbell said textbooks should not be disregarded even if laptops are used, because they are “reference points.” Campbell asked why Bailey would downplay the use of textbooks when the board was at the point of approving new ones.

Bailey defended her viewpoint and said incoming Superintendent Steve Gallon III would be addressing Campbell’s questions.

Students use science kits, CDs, computers and worksheets as well as textbooks in the district. Each year, district students benefit by donations of notebooks, pencils and many other school supplies. But Logan Leach said she saw students with no such materials last week and felt classroom teachers should be able to furnish paper and pencils to children who lacked them.

Bailey’s presentation included lists of all textbooks used in the district. Board members also questioned how lost or ruined textbooks are replaced and whether parents are held responsible for replacement costs. At the April 1 meeting, Curriculum & Instruction Director Beth Ebler said she found 200 ruined books recently at a school. Teachers are responsible for making annual inventories of textbooks.

--Bernice Paglia


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Found this blog accidentally and absolutely love it. I'm a long time Plainfield resident (over 30 years), a product of the school district, a former teacher in the district, and now a current school administrator in another town. We wonder why the kids have so much time on their hands for mischief...COULD IT BE BECAUSE THEY HAVE NO BOOKS AND NO HOMEWORK?!?!? Further, if the district is not spending money on books, where is it going? Certainly not to technology! Computers in the classrooms are scarce.

2:49 PM  

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