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ARE OUR SCHOOLS READY FOR DIGITAL TEXTBOOKS

22 states have officially endorsed digital textbooks, and the White House has set a deadline of 2017 for all students to use electronic materials. Most school divisions continue to use hardback text books due to the expense associated with new technology and internet accessibility. In Virginia, Henrico, Chesterfield, Arlington, Albermarle Counties and the City of Alexandria school divisions are the only areas providing laptops for their students. According to the Chairman of the Federal Communication Commission, American students must be prepared to compete in the 21st century and they cannot miss out on the opportunity of the digital textbook.

SB 740 was introduced this year in the General Assembly which (1) creates a legal standard for school systems who uses electronic textbooks in the classroom, (2) requires any school system to have a plan to ensure that every child will have a digital device to take back and forth to school and (3) for each school using electronic textbooks to have a fiber optic connection to the school by July 1, 2019.

SB 740 failed in the state education committee with a 10 to 9 vote. However, next year it will be introduced again. School systems must plan for the 21st century with electronic textbooks and digital devices.

I voted against SB 740 due to the fiscal impact it will have on local governing bodies. However, I am concerned because all children deserve an equitable education. Will the schools in Southside Virginia be ready to provide digital devices for their students by 2017? School Boards are you in the process of developing a plan? I would like to hear from you regarding this issue.  Please feel free to contact my office in Richmond at 804-698-1075 or email delrtyler@house.virginia.gov.

 

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