Teachers Face Dwindling Textbook Funding
As educators await the fate of the North Carolina state budget, some parents are concerned over what it will mean for their children's education. Administrators with the Buncombe County School system say they've seen a dramatic drop in funding for textbooks for the last few years. Now the lack of textbooks is forcing classrooms to change.
Anna Stearns can hardly believe her soon-to-be high school senior, Dylan, has never been assigned math homework. "The practice of math facts is essential to being able to remember and recall them," says Stearns.
Many Buncombe County schools don't have the funding to afford a set of textbooks for students to take home. They're making due with options to check out books from the library, or completing their work in the classroom. Stearns also says the high school her son is attending can't afford graphing calculators for students to do the work.
The Buncombe County Schools Foundation says more than $100 million have been cut from the state's fund for school textbooks in the same time Dylan has been in high school.
"Specifically for Buncombe County, that equals $14.50 per student. The cost of one book, just for one subject, is between 30 and 80 dollars," says Lisa Adkins, Executive Director of Buncombe County Schools Foundation. "So there is no money for textbooks."
In efforts to help the cause, that foundation will be donating enough world history textbooks for all 5th and 6th graders in the county. At the same time, administration is trying to shift teachers toward new forms of learning.
"Part of that is when you send a student home with a textbook, versus a digital online subscription, students are going to get on that digital online subscription a little bit more willingly than they might crack open a textbook," says Eric Grant, a Curriculum Specialist with the district.
Grant says more teachers are creating work online, shared through web sites and connecting students to more learning opportunities through links. However, the district acknowledges the transition will be difficult in some ways.
"I think that the big deal there is there are very few teachers that are tech savvy enough to push the whole idea forward," says Dylan Stearns.
If the budget is approved as is, it will not restore funding for textbooks.
By: Hope Hanselman
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