Bribe or no bribe?
LA Times's School Me today links to an article from the LA-area paper The Daily Breeze, which reports that San Pedro High School is being required by the LAUSD and state educational officials to give up 12 new laptops and projectors given to the social studies department as part of a textbook purchasing deal. The reasoning LAUSD officials and the state gave is that such a technology purpose constitutes a bribe.
Two years ago, we entered into a similar deal with the same textbook publisher, Glencoe, and because I was fortunate enough to have some say with regards to textbook purchasing, I was able to see the other options out there.
While we had the option to get projectors and laptops, we instead chose another option--for every certain number of textbooks we purchased, we were allowed to choose a certain number of hardcover novels from their catalog of novels.
This was an absolutely FANTASTIC option. I'm not much of a textbook person myself--I admit that my own class set of Glencoe textbooks gets opened for about six months out of every school year. But I LOVE novels, and use them frequently in my classes. With this "bribe" from Glencoe, we were able to replace many of our aging novel sets, many of which had been purchased as paperbacks and used continually for over ten years. Trust me when I say that paperbacks were never intended to be continuously subjected to a high schooler's backpack for ten years--we had many novels missing covers and entire chunks of pages, and each time I'd pass out books, I'd also pass around a roll of duct tape so students could do repairs on their books.
Not only were we able to replace many of these books with durably-bound newer versions, but the newer versions also came with many supplementary readings and activities, some of which I use, some of which I don't.
Finally, having this option enabled us to select new novels we hadn't previously used before, and gave us a chance to figure out what students would like and what didn't work with them.
So is the state going to make us give them back to Glencoe? Well, they'll have to show up at my door and physically take them from me if they want them back, and then if they do actually show up, they may just find that all the novels have mysteriously disappeared. Because I'm sure not parting with a single book, at least not to some bureaucrat who tries to protect the children at the expense of the children.
My husband, El Maestro, teaches at a school where the history department just made the same deal as the one at San Pedro High (although, with a much smaller department, the deal at his school involved fewer computers and projectors.) I'm wondering now if that deal is in jeopardy as well.
What a loss.